The costly and controversial war in Iraq officially ended on Thursday; nearly nine years after President George W. Bush launched an invasion to overthrow former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The U.S.-led mission in Iraq culminated in a tranquil ceremony where American troops lowered the flag of command that flew over Baghdad.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who flew into the Iraqi capital for the flag-lowering ceremony, reassured the troops the mission had been worth the cost in blood and dollars. “After a lot of blood spilled by Iraqis and Americans, the mission of an Iraq that could govern and secure itself has become real,” he said, according to CNN.com.
The Iraq war has produced a hefty price tag. More than 4,500 American troops have died in Iraq since 2003, while the United States has spent over $800 billion in Iraq, in total.
As of Tuesday, 5,500 American troops remained. A senior defense official traveling with Panetta said that some troops —possibly 3,000 to 4,000–will remain in Kuwait for a certain period of time but noted the details have not been worked out with the Kuwaitis.
Watch the flag-lowering ceremony below: