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Iraqi Forces Take Security Control of Anbar Province


Iraqi forces have taken security responsibility for Iraq's Anbar province from the U.S. military in a move that reflects greater stability in the country.

U.S. forces transferred control of the former al-Qaida stronghold to Iraqi authorities Monday in a ceremony in the town of Ramadi.

U.S. President George Bush praised the Anbar handover, saying the province has been "transformed and reclaimed" by the Iraqi people.

Anbar has become one of Iraq's most stable regions since local Sunni tribes turned against al-Qaida in 2006 and joined forces with the U.S. military.

Meanwhile, Iraqi officials say insurgents killed about 380 civilians in August, roughly the same number as the month before, but far below the death toll for August 2007.

The French news agency reports around 50 Iraqi security forces were killed last month, down from about 100 in July.

The U.S. military reported the deaths of 22 American troops in and around Iraq during August, up from 11 deaths in July. Twelve U.S. troops were killed in combat in August, while 10 others died in non-hostile incidents.

In other developments, the U.S. military says it detained 14 suspected al-Qaida terrorists during raids in central and northern Iraq on Sunday and Monday. It says coalition forces also captured two suspected Shi'ite insurgents Monday in the southern province of al-Muthanna.

Anbar is the first Sunni-dominated province to be transferred to Iraqi control since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. It also is the 11th of Iraq's 18 provinces to be handed over by the U.S.-led coalition.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.



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