US President Barack Obama said this morning he would keep his campaign promise to end the country’s combat mission in Iraq by August 31 and added that “a grateful America must pay tribute to all who served there.”

“Remember, our nation has had vigorous debates about the Iraq War,” Mr Obama said in a speech at the Disabled American Veterans’ national convention in Atlanta.

“There are patriots who supported going to war, and patriots who opposed it. But there has never been any daylight between us when it comes to supporting the more than one million Americans in uniform who have served in Iraq – far more than any conflict since Vietnam.”

Obama’s pledge to end the US combat mission in Iraq comes despite increased violence and political tension there.

According to official figures, 535 people died in Iraq in July – the highest figure since May 2008, according to The Wall Street Journal.

US and Iraqi officials say insurgents are attempting to take advantage of a five-month impasse in forming a new Iraqi government.

But Obama struck an optimistic tone saying violence is “near the lowest it’s been in years” and praising Iraqi troops for taking the lead in security in many parts of the country.

The president also expressed a commitment to the war in Afghanistan, saying: “We will continue to face huge challenges … But it’s important that the American people know that we are making progress and we are focused on goals that are clear and achievable.”

“We will disrupt, we will dismantle and we will ultimately defeat al Qaeda,” he added.