US turns security for Karbala over to Iraqi forces

Monday, October 29, 2007

Location of Karbala Governorate within Iraq
The Imam Husayn Shrine is in the city of Karbala

United States forces in Iraq have today turned over control of Karbala Governorate over to Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). It is the eighth of 18 provinces to be returned to local control since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki spoke at the handover ceremony, which took place a at sports stadium in the city of Karbala. "Allow me to say that we are late, very late, to reconstruct, to rebuild our forces for reasons that I do not want to mention here," he said.

Reaching out to those who have left the Iraqi insurgency and turned against Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Maliki said: "We welcome those returning from committing wrongs who wish to correct their course and actions to participate in building Iraq."

The governor of Karbala praised the efforts of the ISF to take over command.

In a joint press release, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker said, "Iraqi Security Forces in Karbala have been successfully operating independently, maintaining their own security for the past three months. Working with local government officials, they have demonstrated their readiness to assume responsibility for the province. Today this responsibility is theirs."