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Marines from Twentynine Palms to be among first to leave Afghanistan

July 6, 2011 |  9:22 am

A battalion of Marines from Twentynine Palms will be among the first units to leave Afghanistan under the drawdown ordered by President Obama, a top general told reporters today.

The 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, will leave by the end of summer and not be replaced, Army Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez told reporters at the Pentagon. Rodriguez has been the No. 2 U.S. officer in Afghanistan.

The unit is assigned to the southern region of Helmand province, which is considered a better candidate to be turned over to the control of Afghan security forces than the northern part of the province.

In Sangin in northern Afghanistan the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, from Camp Pendleton has had seven Marines killed since late April.

The Marines plan to relinquish security responsibility for Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, to the Afghans, though a smaller number of Marines will remain in "over-watch" in case of an uprising by Taliban fighters.

Obama has announced that 10,000 U.S. troops will come home by the end of the year, and another 23,000 by the end of 2012. That would leave about 67,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

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