US Hands Holy Shiite City Karbala Over to Iraqis
The U.S. turned full control of the Shiite holy city of Karbala over to the Iraqis yesterday, continuing a trend of gradual handovers of secured areas.
The U.S. Army handed over its base in Karbala, south of Baghdad on Wednesday, giving Iraqis full control of the holy Shiite city. Karbala is the second city where security responsibilities have been transferred to the Iraqis, following a handover of another Shiite stronghold, Najaf, less than a month ago.
The U.S. commander Lieutenant Colonel James Oliver, handed an Iraqi flag to the Iraqi police commander to mark the handover. “The Ceremony today signifies the turning over of responsibility for security operations in Karbala province.”
Occupying U.S. forces have relocated to another base outside the city so as to be available to assist in a major security crisis. The U.S.-led coalition plans gradually to hand over control of other cities to the Iraqis, thus reducing its security profile.
One hopes this happens quickly.
via Juan Cole