Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Yet another province comes under Iraqi control

Defence & Security-Iraq to take control of fourth province By Agence France-Presse URL of this article: Iraqi security forces are set to take control from foreign troops of a fourth province in the violence-plagued country this month, Iraqi and British officials said on Thursday. "The timetable for our armed forces to receive national responsibility is accelerating. And this month, multi-national forces will transfer security responsibility to the authorities in Maysan," a statement from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's office said. "The prime minister hereby authorises the governor of Maysan to receive security responsibility from the multinational forces in another achievement for the people of the province." British Lieutenant Colonel Kavin Stratford-Wright confirmed that troops were working towards transferring Iraqi control in the southern province of Maysan, which shares a border with Iran, in April. "That transfer to provincial Iraqi control is projected to be this month. At that point, the responsibility is theirs and we'd only intervene in a security situation at their request," he told AFP from the southern city of Basra where British troops are based. "This is a positive thing. We're pleased the Iraqi prime minister has made this decision. It's an indication of further progress in the south," he said. Maysan province will be the fourth out of Iraq's 18 provinces handed over to Iraqi security control and the third transferred by British-led troops since July. In August, British troops had handed over security in Amara, the capital of Maysan, but retained other regions of the province. Stratford-Wright said multinational troops would continue to be in Maysan and would also retain forces on the border after the transfer. Prime Minister Tony Blair told parliament in February that the number of British troops would likely drop to 5,000 by the end of the year, compared to about 7,200 deployed in the country today.

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