U.S. exit from Iraq without incident

After nearly nine years of war, the last U.S. combat troops have crossed the border into Kuwait.

CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that after a quiet end to a long, divisive and costly war, the last troops were able to leave Iraq without incident on Sunday. Iraq now continues on its own course towards democracy.

As of Sunday night, for the first time in 8 years, 8 months and 28 days, the U.S. has no troops fighting in Iraq.

The American convoy left Camp Adder south of Baghdad during the night, bound for Kuwait. The last convoy out of Iraq rolled across the Kuwaiti border at 7:37 local time Sunday morning, capping a drawdown that saw the U.S. go from 50,000 troops in Iraq as late as August to zero.

The top U.S. general in Iraq, Lloyd Austin, called the final drawdown the military's largest most complex logistical undertaking since World War II. He stopped by with good wishes for the soldiers making up the final convoy as the military met its deadline of having all troops gone by December 31st

"I'm very hopeful that things will continue to move in right direction. It's going to take the Iraqi government, the Iraqi people to make the right decisions, work together," Austin said.

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The officers planning the last troop movements of the Iraq war had feared attacks from Iranian-backed militias active in the south, but the five-hour, 160-mile drive from Camp Adder - the last U.S. base to operate in Iraq - to the border went smoothly.

Soldiers expressed relief when they crossed the Kuwaiti border without an incident. Many were hopeful for not just a better Iraq, but being home in time for Christmas.

One way that some are measuring the Iraq war is in terms of loss. Since U.S. troops first entered Iraq, 8,794 Americans lost a son or daughter; 3,141 lost a parent; and 2,468 lost a husband or wife.

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" and a national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" and other CBS News broadcasts.

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