The United States has turned over some of its highest-profile Iraqi prisoners to the Iraqi government.

Iraqi authorities say former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was handed over on Wednesday, along with another 25 officials from the inner circle of former dictator Saddam Hussein.

Iraqi officials say the prisoners had been held at Camp Cropper, the last U.S.-run detention center in Iraq.  The U.S. is scheduled to transfer control of Camp Cropper to Iraq in a ceremony Thursday.

Aziz served for years as Saddam's main spokesman to the outside world.  Iraqi courts sentenced Aziz to a combined 22 years in prison during two separate trials for atrocities during Saddam's rule.

The  former deputy prime minister's Amman-based lawyer criticized the transfer, and said the 74-year-old Aziz now fears Iraqi officials will find a way to kill him.

The lawyer said Aziz is afraid Iraqi officials will poison his food or withhold medication.

Aziz suffered a stroke earlier this year.  Family members have expressed concerns about his health.

Also Wednesday, Iraqi officials say gunmen killed at least four people while storming the home of a Sufi Muslim cleric near the western city of Fallujah.

The officials say the men used assault rifles to shoot and kill three women and a child.

Officials say at least six other people were injured.  It is not clear if the cleric was injured in the attack.

Sufi scholars say the mystic tradition promotes universal love, peace and tolerance, but some Islamic extremists regard Sufis as heretics.

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

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