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House Votes to Pull Troops Out

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From the BBC:

US House votes for troop pullout

Some Republicans have broken ranks with the President on Iraq

US troops in Iraq

The United States House of Representatives has voted in favour of pulling most combat troops out of Iraq by April next year.

The legislation calls for the Pentagon to begin withdrawing combat troops within four months.

The vote comes despite President George W Bush's threat to veto any timetable.

Correspondents say the House of Representatives, controlled by the Democrats, is hoping to pressure the Senate to approve a similar timeline.

It is the third time this year the House has voted to end US military involvement in Iraq.

Two previous efforts either failed in the Senate or were vetoed by President Bush.

Limited progress

The latest attempt would allow some US forces to stay in Iraq to train the Iraqi army and carry out counter-terrorism operations.

"It is time for the president to listen to the American people and do what is necessary to protect this nation," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat.

"That means admitting his Iraq policy has failed, working with the Democrats and Republicans in Congress on crafting a new way forward in Iraq and refocusing our collective efforts on defeating al-Qaeda."

Earlier, President Bush presented an interim report on the situation in Iraq which said there had been only limited military and political progress following his decision to reinforce US troop levels in the country.

But Mr Bush rejected calls for a withdrawal of US forces, saying it would be disastrous.

"The report makes clear that not even the White House can conclude there has been significant progress," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat. "We have already waited too long."

The BBC's Matt Lantos in Washington says the most eagerly-awaited reaction is yet to come - that of those wavering Republicans who could determine whether or not Congress will try and force the president's hand.