Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Spain's El Hierro to become world's first self-powered island

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bellwether for what not to do

Read more

ENCORE!

Luc Besson back in action with Scarlett Johansson in 'Lucy'

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Iraq: Kurdish forces fight to protect Yazidis

Read more

DEBATE

Libya unrest: National Assembly asks for UN help to dissolve militias

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

#IceBucketChallenge and hashtag activism

Read more

  • France’s Hollande says global security ‘worst since 2001’

    Read more

  • France urges Iran, others in region, to join fight against IS

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • Ex-PM Juppé announces bid for 2017 French presidential race

    Read more

  • A new view on Normandy landings, 70 years on

    Read more

  • Video: Dozens arrested despite smaller protests in Ferguson

    Read more

  • Dozens killed as landslides strike Japan’s Hiroshima

    Read more

  • Deadly airstrikes hit Gaza as ceasefire with Israel collapses

    Read more

  • Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

    Read more

  • WWII anniversary highlights best - and worst - of Paris police

    Read more

  • Headscarf at the beach sparks French MEP’s fury

    Read more

  • Video: Life in under-siege Donetsk

    Read more

  • Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

    Read more

  • ‘Let it be’: Londoners sick of Abbey Road tourists

    Read more

Babil province transferred to Iraqi forces

Text by Florence VILLEMINOT , AFP , Christophe DANSETTE

Latest update : 2008-10-23

Iraqi forces took control of the central Shiite province of Babil from American troops on Thursday. Earlier in the day, Labour Minister Mahmud Jawad al-Radi's convoy was the target of a suicide blast in Baghdad.

Report: Attack on minister's convoy leaves eleven dead in Iraq (23/10)

 

U.S. forces declared an area once known as the “triangle of death” safe enough for Iraqi troops to take charge on Thursday, handing over responsibility for security in Babil province to Iraqi forces.

 

The province south of Baghdad is the 12th of Iraq’s 18 provinces in which primary responsibility for security has been given to Iraqi forces.

 

With violence at four-year lows, only the capital Baghdad, four ethnically and religiously mixed northern provinces and Wasit province along the Iranian border still require day-to-day U.S. patrols of Iraqi streets.

 

Iraq’s National Security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie said at a handover ceremony in the provincial capital Hilla that Iraqis will also take control of Wasit province within days.

 

“This is proof that our military forces have reached self-sufficiency, and can now be depended upon to preserve internal security,” Rubaie said.

 

Lieutenant-General Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. combat forces in Iraq, called the event a “milestone for Iraq in maturing as a sovereign and democratic nation.”

 

“Just a year ago this province was experiencing well over 20 attacks per week. And today attacks are down well over 80 percent. This is truly remarkable,” he said.

 

Iraqi troops, police and firemen then marched past to the sound of a brass band.

 

Babil, a vast province named for the ruins of ancient Babylon, includes rural Sunni Arab areas dotted with date palm groves along the Euphrates south of Baghdad, which U.S. forces dubbed the “triangle of death” in years after the 2003 invasion.

 

The triangle was a heartland of the Sunni insurgency against U.S. forces and the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad until last year, when many Sunni Arabs joined U.S.-funded patrols known as “Awakening” groups.

 

Babil’s cities have also seen uprisings by followers of anti-American Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr as recently as April this year. But they have been far quieter in recent months as Sadr’s followers have held to a ceasefire.

 

Violence across Iraq has fallen over the past year to four-year lows, but militants are still able to carry out frequent car bomb and suicide bomb attacks. Suicide bombings are a signature tactic of al Qaeda Sunni Islamist militants.

Date created : 2008-10-23

COMMENT(S)