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The 30,000 additional troops deployed to Iraq in January could come home by next July, but further American withdrawals would be "premature," the U.S. commander there told a fractious congressional hearing Monday.

"Our experience in Iraq has repeatedly shown that projecting too far into the future is not just difficult, it can be misleading and even hazardous," Gen. David Petraeus said at a joint hearing of the House Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees. "The events of the past six months underscore that point."

The testimony by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, was interrupted numerous times by demonstrators.

"The American people want our troops home," one woman shouted. Watch Petraeus say how "surge" has worked

Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, the Armed Services Committee's chairman, ordered several protesters arrested for interrupting what he said "may be the most important hearing of the year." Read full article »

CNN's Barbara Starr, Dana Bash and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

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