British troops hand control of Basra to Iraqi forces

By Xinhua

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Baghdad : The British troops transferred responsibility for security in Iraq’s southern province of Basra to Iraqi forces on Sunday, nearly four months after the British troops pulled out from the former Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace in the city of Basra.

In a ceremony held in Basra, some 550 km south of Baghdad, Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraq’s National Security Advisor, told the audience “this achievement is a tangible evidence that our security forces are making progress.”

“This achievement did not come from nothing, but it came as a result of the great efforts of the government and the sacrifices of the people of Iraq in fighting terrorism, religious extremism, militia and outlaws in the country,” Rubaie said in his speech in the ceremony in the Sheiyba airport outside the city of Basra.

He added that the coming year will be the year of rebuilding not only in Basra province but also all other provinces in the country.

The governor of Basra, Muhammad Mussabah al-Waili, expressed readiness to take over the security in the province. “Our security forces are completely ready to deal with the situation in the province.”

Early in September, the British troops had pulled out from the former president Saddam Hussein’s palace in central the city of Basra and moved to the Sheiyba airport that bases outside the city

The handover of the country’s main oil export hub is the ninth province that was transferred to Iraqi control, making the Iraqis be able to control half of its total 18 provinces.

Basra, the second largest city in Iraq, is the last of five British troops-controlled provinces in southern Iraq moved to local Iraqi control.