UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to let the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq remain in place through the end of 2006, as requested by Iraq's government.
Without council action, the mandate of the force, which now numbers about 178,000 troops, would have ended Dec. 31, when a democratically elected government is to take power in Baghdad under a new constitution approved Oct. 15. Parliamentary elections are set for Dec. 15.
The resolution adopted by the council authorizes the new Iraqi government to terminate the mandate when it chooses.
U.S. and foreign troops are focusing on fighting insurgents and training Iraqi forces.
In recent days, 2,500 U.S. troops and about 1,000 Iraqi soldiers have been engaged in a high-profile operation to clear insurgents from a small town on the Syrian border that commanders say has been a gateway and training ground for militants entering Iraq.
Col. Stephen W. Davis, commander of U.S. Marines in Iraq's western Al Anbar province, said Tuesday that Husaybah had been "cleared and secured."