The United States has handed over control of its last military prison in Iraq to Iraqi officials.

U.S. military officials transferred control of Camp Cropper, near the international airport outside Baghdad, during a ceremony Thursday.

The prison houses about 1,500 detainees. Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and several prominent members of his inner circle had also been kept at Camp Cropper.

A day ahead of transferring control of the prison, the U.S. handed over former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz along with 25 other high profile prisoners to Iraqi authorities. Officials say another 200 prisoners will remain in U.S. custody.

The transfer of the last U.S. military detention facility in Iraq comes as the United States prepares to reduce the number of troops it has in Iraq to about 50,000 by September.

Camp Cropper became a more prominent U.S. military prison following allegations of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in 2004.

Earlier this week, the top U.S. commander in Iraq said lessons learned at Abu Ghraib were applied at Camp Cropper.

General Ray Odierno said the U.S. had not anticipated a counter-insurgency which would require it to hold a large number of detainees for such an extended period.

Also Thursday, Iraqi officials said a car bomb targeting a police patrol killed six people and wounded at least 11 others in a city north of Baghdad.

Police said the blast took place in central Tikrit, hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein. They said four police officers were among the dead.

Overall violence in Iraq has yet to match the peak reached in 2006 and 2007. However, insurgents have intensified attacks since inconclusive March elections left the country without a governing coalition.

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

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