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Iraqis assume more control of Syrian border, Babil Province

AL HILLAH, Iraq (Army News Service, Dec. 1, 2005) – Coalition instructors tested and certified the combat readiness of the 2nd Iraqi Army Brigade this week, and announced that the troops are ready to plan and conduct military operations independently in Babil Province, in south-central Iraq.

Meanwhile along the Syrian border, Iraqi forces also assumed greater control of the area. A ceremony Nov. 30 in western Iraq symbolized the securing of the borders through cooperation of the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of the Interior and Multi-National Force Iraq.

Defense minister lauds `historic day’

“I won¹t forget this day,” said Iraqi Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi. “The insurgents are no longer controlling the border. Our friends have helped us.”

The ceremony in the Iraqi-Syrian border town of Husaybah was also attended by Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ali Muhsin al-Khafaggi, deputy minister of the Interior for Support Forces; and Gen. George Casey, MNF-I commander.

Controlling the borders is the key to Iraqi sovereignty, Coalition officials said. They said developing capable border forces will significantly disrupt entry for terrorists and foreign fighters and integrate with provincial counterinsurgency efforts. This began Nov. 30, officials said, adding it will continue until Iraqi forces control all ports of entry and provide their own security support.

“This is a historic day for Iraq,” said al-Dulaimi.

MNDCS certifies Iraqi 2nd Bde

The 2nd Iraqi Army Brigade from al Hillah successfully accomplished its certification process Nov. 29. From Nov. 24 – 27, military instructors from Multi-National Division Central-South tested the combat readiness of 2nd Brigade Headquarters and subunits.

The exam confirmed that the 2nd Brigade is ready to plan and conduct military activities independently, officials said. They said it opens the way to hand over the responsibility for a safe and secure environment in Babil Province from Coalition Forces to Iraqi Army units.

From now on, 2nd Brigade will plan and conduct independent operations within its area of responsibility. Coalition support will be given only in emergency situations by providing a quick reaction force, MEDEVAC or air support. However, Coalition military advisors and trainers will still monitor 2nd Brigade activities.

2nd Bde shows combat savvy

The 2nd Brigade certification is a two-stage process of training. After battalion-level certification had been achieved in mid-July, the higher brigade level came under focus.

The 2nd Brigade consists of two battalions located in different places within Babil province. It numbers about 1,800 Soldiers equipped in light armored vehicles with a variety of weapons.

The brigade has taken part in five combat operations so far. They were executed in cooperation with Coalition forces. During these operations, 2nd Brigade Soldiers searched hundreds of vehicles, persons and buildings.

Ninety different illegal weapons and a large amount of ammunition have been seized as result. Also many persons suspected of terrorism have been detained.

The most significant success of 2nd Brigade was the referendum operation, officials said. The brigade established 41 checkpoints and 12 mobile patrols effectively preventing any attacks Nov. 15.

(Editor's note: Information provided by Multi-National Division Central-South Public Affairs and the Combined Press Information Center.)

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