March 20 marks the sixth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Over the course of the war, at least 4,259 members of the U.S. military and tens of thousands of Iraqis have died. Violence, though still common, is now at a record low, reports the AP.
After six years of war and tens of thousands of deaths, violence has declined sharply nationwide _ especially in Baghdad _ although the Sunni-led insurgency remains potent in northern Iraq. An Associated Press count recorded at least 288 Iraqi civilians and security forces killed in February 2009, a 63 percent reduction compared to 769 killed in the same month a year ago.
With violence down and American support for the war waning, the United States is planning its withdrawal. In February, President Obama announced his plan to withdraw all combat troops from Iraq by August 2010, and his administration has already shifted its focus to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Check out this slideshow of key moments in the Iraq War.
Despite the violence reduction, Iraq still faces its fair share of obstacles, as the AP reports.
"The political process is full of tensions and contradictions and the situation in Iraqi will deteriorate if political progress isn't made," Sunni lawmaker Osama al-Nujaifi said. "There are still a lot of challenges ahead, including unemployment and the immigration millions of Iraqis abroad."
He cited the country's budget crisis after severe cuts had to be made following the steep drop in oil prices from a high of $150 per barrel last summer to just over $50 per barrel on Thursday.
"We live in a critical economic situation," he said. "There is a lot to be accomplished before we can express our optimism."
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