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Area reacts to Iraq news

Anti-war protesters are out again, but a planned date to bring more troops home excites many.

August 23, 2008|By Jeremy Oberstein

GLENDALE — Reports that the deployment of U.S. troops to Iraq could be greatly downgraded by the middle of 2009 pleased anti-war residents and elicited tepid praise from Republican Rep. David Dreier, an early and avid supporter of the war.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki met in Iraq to establish a draft agreement in which U.S. forces will conditionally withdraw from Iraq starting in July 2009 and to be completed by the end of 2011. Iraqi and U.S. officials warned that the deal’s approval is far from done as Iraqi politicians must still approve any agreement.

Anger against the war in Iraq among local residents has been palpable.

On Friday, a small contingent of anti-war demonstrators on the corner of Brand Boulevard and Broadway held “Peace Now” signs, waved flags and encouraged those walking by to sign petitions against the war they said would be sent to Schiff’s office.

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On the proposed withdrawal, demonstrator Henry Fliegel said it was a “step in the right direction, but the problem is that [in Iraq] there are so many parties, so many factions.”

Dreier’s support for the war was evident from the start of the conflict when he voted for the initial authorization of force in 2003. In 2007, he voted against a congressional bill that would have reduced the U.S. military to a “limited presence” in Iraq by this past April, preceded by a 2006 measure Dreier voted against that would have imposed any timetable for U.S. troops to leave Iraq.

Still, on Friday, Dreier said that any drawdown of American troops in Iraq is a direct result of “real results” achieved during more than five years’ worth of conflict.

“The war in Iraq has been long and difficult and thousands of families have paid the ultimate price during its course,” Dreier said. “The fact that an agreement between the Iraqi and U.S. governments is so close is a reflection of the sacrifice, bravery and commitment of our troops and their families. Our troops will be able to return having achieved real results — a stable, democratic Iraq that can defend itself. They are to be commended for their service.”

Support for the withdrawal of troop levels by some Republicans, most notably Bush, has not surprised Fliegel and others at the Glendale demonstration, which has been held every week since September 2002.

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