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Defense official: Rumsfeld given Iraq withdrawal plan

Plan calls for troops to begin pulling out after December elections

Iraqi firefighters carry away a man injured in twin car bombings Friday in Baghdad.


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The top U.S. commander in Iraq has submitted a plan to the Pentagon for withdrawing troops in Iraq, according to a senior defense official.

Gen. George Casey submitted the plan to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It includes numerous options and recommends that brigades -- usually made up of about 2,000 soldiers each -- begin pulling out of Iraq early next year.

The proposal comes as tension grows in both Washington and Baghdad following a call by a senior House Democrat to bring U.S. troops home and the deaths of scores of people by suicide bombers in two Iraqi cities.

House Republicans were looking for a showdown Friday after Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat and well-respected Vietnam veteran, presented a resolution that would force the president to withdraw the nearly 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq "at the earliest predictable date." (Watch Murtha urge legislators to sign off on pulling out troops -- 1:37)

Murtha on Thursday called the administration's management of the conflict "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion" that is "uniting the enemy against us."

"It's time to bring the troops home," he said.

Republicans were looking to lock horns with Democrats after Murtha's remarks.

Rather than distancing themselves from Friday's resolution, House majority leader Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, welcomed a debate and vote, forcing Democrats to stand alongside Murtha or go on record against the withdrawal. (Read about the House showdown)

Meanwhile, at least 90 people were killed in two suicide bombings in Iraq, according to hospital officials. The U.S. military put the casualties at 150, without giving a breakdown. (Full story)

The deadliest of the attacks took place in Khanaqin, a Shiite-Kurdish town about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of Baquba. Two suicide bombers detonated bombs near or inside Shiite Muslim mosques, destroying both of the structures, Iraqi and U.S. authorities said.

Scores of people were killed.

The attacks came during midday prayer services, when the mosques were full of worshippers, many of them children, the Khanaqin mayor said.

Also Friday, two suicide car bombings in Baghdad killed at least six people near a hotel, police said. (Watch security camera video of suicide car bomb -- :30)

The hotel is near the Iraqi Interior Ministry compound, where about 170 detainees were found last weekend, some with signs of torture, according to Iraqi officials. There were no reports of damage to the compound, and the U.S. military said the hotel was the target of the attack.

Rumsfeld has yet to sign Casey's withdrawal plan but, the senior defense official said, implementation of the plan, if approved, would start after the December 15 Iraqi elections so as not to discourage voters from going to the polls.

The plan, which would withdraw a limited amount of troops during 2006, requires that a host of milestones be reached before troops are withdrawn.

Top Pentagon officials have repeatedly discussed some of those milestones: Iraqi troops must demonstrate that they can handle security without U.S. help; the country's political process must be strong; and reconstruction and economic conditions must show signs of stability.

CNN's Dana Bash, Arwa Damon, Enes Dulami and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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