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Reaction on Iraq withdrawal: 'So many lives have been lost'

Soldier, families, and politicians weigh in on President Obama's call to end war in Iraq.
/ Source: news services

President Barack Obama's announcement that he would bring all U.S. forces in Iraq home in time for the holidays drew a range of reaction on Friday. Here's a sampling worldwide:

'I'm afraid'
Ziyad Jabari, a Baghdad shop owner, expressed concern, saying he was worried about Iraq's possible slide back into sectarian violence once American forces leave.

"I would be very happy with this withdrawal if our military and security forces are ready to fill the gap of the American forces. But I don't believe they are. We can't deceive ourselves," Jabari said. "Our forces are still not capable of facing our security challenges. I'm afraid this withdrawal will allow al-Qaida and the militias to return."

For mom, it's too late
Norma Aviles of Tampa, Fla., said she's glad that more families will be spared the pain she has suffered.

"I was always against this war. We never should have been there," Aviles told Tampa Bay Online. "I lost my son, my beautiful son. That life will never be replaced. I am glad we are getting out of that place."

Her son, Marine Lance Cpl. Andrew Aviles of Tampa, was killed in Iraq on April 7, 2003. He was 18.

"So many lives have been lost in this war," Aviles said. "Especially young Americans like my son. ... The pain of losing him never goes away."

'A good thing'
Jordan Calder of St. Petersburg, Fla., was injured by an explosion in Baghdad in June. He heard the news while heading to Fort Riley in Kansas and said he was relieved for his fellow soldiers in the war-torn country.

"I think it's a good thing we're all coming back," he said in a telephone interview with Tampa Bay Online. "How effective that is going to be, I don't know. Things change over there like there's no tomorrow."

He said he's happy to be back in the United States and his wounds from the June blast are about healed.

"I'm doing good," he said. "I just got three scars on lower right leg. That's it."

McCain: Pullout premature
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a proponent of U.S. military presence in Iraq beyond 2011, criticized Obama's plan.

"I am confident that no U.S. commander of any stature who has served in Iraq recommended the course of action that has now been taken," said McCain, according to Stars and Stripes.

Number 870 and 37
Darlene Ginther was happy to hear the news for all the other troops in Iraq, but remained skeptical of the road ahead.

"It's been a long time coming," the Port Charlotte woman told Tampa Bay Online. "I don't think it's going to happen. It's just my feeling I don't think it's going to happen."

Her son, Ronald Ginther, had been in the Navy for four years when terrorists attacked New York and Washington 10 years ago. He called home to tell his parents he likely would be shipped to a war zone, she said.

The petty officer was killed on May 2, 2004, in Anbar, Iraq. He was 37.

"He was number 870," his mother said, referring to service men and woman killed in the line of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. "He's missed."

Indianapolis readers weigh in
"Whatever the motive, let's be thankful our troops are coming home! And be thankful you live in this country where you can openly voice your opinions on such media as this ... without being executed!" wrote Brooke Doughty Huber on WTHR's Facebook wall, the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis reported.

"That's great news but how many will actually get to come home?" wondered another reader, Alice Crawford of Indianapolis. "I have heard many are being deployed to other regions of the world. Afghanistan and other places. Yes, it's part of the job and all, but many of those men and women haven't been HOME in a long time. I think they need to come home on leave for a while before being sent somewhere else. It's the least the government can do for them."

'Kind of premature'
Donald H. Linborg, past commander of the American Legion in Monroe County and the Cottreall-Warner Post 942 in Webster, N.Y., said he believes pulling out American troops could be a mistake.

“It’s kind of premature, to walk away at this point,” Linborg told the Democrat and Chronicle. “There’s a lot of people waiting for us to leave so they can just walk in and take over.”

'Support our veterans'
Paul Rieckhoff, founder and director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and an Iraq veteran, said the nation needs to support those returning from Iraq.

"The men and women who have served need support in tackling record levels of unemployment, suicide and mental health injuries," Rieckhoff said in an emailed statement, adding "Just as we supported them overseas in Iraq, all Americans must continue to support our veterans as they transition back home.”

Tampa Bay Online's Rob Shaw and Keith Morelli contributed to this report, as did The Associated Press and staff.