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Iraq: US Plans Anbar Security Control Transfer  Monday

Iraqi officials say the United States will transfer security control of Iraq's Anbar province to Iraqi forces on Monday, September 1.

U.S. Marine Corps Commander General James Conway said Wednesday that security in the once volatile region has improved to the extent that Marines there are doing more rebuilding than fighting. He says keeping 25,000 Marines in the province is excessive.

The U.S. military had been due to hand over security responsibility for Anbar to Iraqi forces in June, but the move was delayed.

Anbar will be the 10th province to revert to Iraqi control. It has experienced a sharp drop in violence since local Sunni tribes turned against al-Qaida militants in 2006.

In other news, radical Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr Thursday announced he has suspended indefinitely the activity of his militia, the Mahdi Army.

Earlier this month, Sadr said he would dissolve the militia if U.S. forces started withdrawing from Iraq.

The U.S. and Iraqi governments are still negotiating a long-term security pact when the United Nations mandate ends for U.S. forces in Iraq at the end of this year.

On Wednesday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said the United States asked for permission to keep troops in Iraq until 2015, but later agreed to a 2011 withdrawal date.

U.S. officials say a deal with Iraq is close, but there is no final agreement.

Separately, the U.S. military says an American soldier has died of wounds suffered in a small-arms fire attack in Baghdad Wednesday.

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