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American Forces Press Service

Petraeus Calls British Turnover of Basra Control 'Positive Step'

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2007 – In a joint statement issued Dec. 16, 2007, U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, Multinational Force Iraq commander, and Patricia A. Butenis, chargé d'affaires, said "the United States and Multinational Force Iraq welcome the transfer of security responsibility in Basra Province to Iraqi responsibility as a positive step on the path to Iraq's self-reliance.

"Basra is the ninth province to be transferred to Iraqi security responsibility as the government of Iraq and its security forces continue to develop and assume greater responsibility for governing and providing security for the citizens of Iraq. The first province transferred to Government of Iraqi security control was Muthanna in July 2006, followed by Dhi Qar, An Najaf, Maysan, Irbil, Sulaymaniyah, Dahuk and most recently in October 2007, Karbala.

"The transfer of provincial security responsibility is particularly significant because it includes the city of Basra, the second largest city in Iraq. Basra played an important role in early Islamic history and was founded in the first century of Hijra. The country’s main port is located in Basra province and has been an integral part in the reconstruction and advancement of logistical efforts for the rest of the country.

"Iraqi Security Forces in Basra have been successfully operating independently, maintaining their own security for the past four months. Working with local government and military officials, they have demonstrated their readiness to assume responsibility for the provincial security. Today this responsibility is theirs.

"The transition of responsibility for security in Basra Province represents the most recent step toward a future of improved security, self-reliance and increasing prosperity that will benefit all Iraqi citizens. In order to attain sustainable security, the provincial and military leadership in Basra still have work to do and we will assist as requested. The United States and Multi-National Force-Iraq congratulate the Government of Iraq on this important milestone."

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