Six years after the U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, Iraq declared a public holiday Tuesday to mark the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from cities and towns, staging a military parade aimed at illustrating its security progress.

The drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq is moving forward with the U.S. military announcing the reduction of 12,000 troops over the next six months as the next step toward the goal of ending combat operations by August 2010.

As Iraqi lawmakers spar over approval of a new U.S.-Iraqi security deal, scores of followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took to the streets Friday to protest the pact, chanting slogans and burning an effigy of President George W.

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