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Iraqi troops take control of province

world Updated: Jul 16, 2008 21:54 IST

AFP
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Coalition forces have handed over control of a province south of Baghdad to the Iraqi government, reflecting the improvement in security across the country.

US and Polish forces operated in the mostly Shiite province of Qadisiyah, the 10th of 18 provinces to fall under Iraqi authority. The handover comes as Iraqi officials pressure the United States to agree to a specific timeline to withdraw American forces.

Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, the American commander in the provincial capital of Diwaniyah, was at the handover ceremony Wednesday. He said Qadisiyah has made big security gains in the past year, and that local and provincial governments were working well. Qadisiyah had been the scene of fighting among Shiite factions, and U.S. and Iraqi troops launched a big operation there last year. The handover was delayed from last month.