At least 60 people are dead and many more injured after a suicide bomber attacked a military recruitment center in Baghdad, Tuesday.
The blast happened as hundreds of potential Iraqi army recruits stood in line at the crack of dawn, ready to protect their country.
"The recruits got here very early waiting to join the army," eyewitness Mohammed Jasmin said.
Shortly after 8 a.m. in Baghdad, an Iraqi man dressed in army fatigues joined the line. Moments later he triggered his suicide vest.
Dozens of bodies were scattered across the parking lot of the recruitment center, and another 125 people were injured.
"What crime have those people committed?" Jasmin asked.
Such centers have been prime targets for attacks by insurgents. The latest explosion comes as the Iraqi army tries desperately to recruit more soldiers ahead of a U.S. troop pullout later this month.
There is also growing concern among Iraqis about the pullout.
A top Iraqi general recently warned that his men aren't ready to assume control until 2020, and that U.S. troops should stay until then. But that's not happening.
On the other side of town, away from Tuesday's blast site, U.S. soldiers spent this past weekend packing. Soldiers from the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, boarded planes bound for home.
"Looking forward to reintegration back home with our families and our communities. Me personally, especially looking forward to getting back to my wife," Sgt. Dross (first name unknown) said.
All U.S. troops are scheduled to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, and once the drawdown is complete, the U.S. military's role will shift significantly, to advising and assisting Iraqi forces.
As of Sept. 1, the mission name will change from "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to "Operation New Dawn."