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Governor Says Karbala Transfer Imminent
US Will Reportedly Handover Province to Iraqi Forces by End of November
10/19/2007 12:41 PM ET
Iraqi soldiers stand guard in front of one of the entrances to a shrine during the Friday prayers in Karbala, 110 kms (70 miles) south of Baghdad, 31 August 2007.
Mohammed Sawaf/AFP/Getty
Iraqi soldiers stand guard in front of one of the entrances to a shrine during the Friday prayers in Karbala, 110 kms (70 miles) south of Baghdad, 31 August 2007.

US forces have not had a significant presence in Karbala for some time, but it looks like they could make the handover to Iraqi forces official by the end of November.

The governor of Karbala said Friday that the US will turn Karbala over to Iraq forces during a ceremony to be scheduled during the last two days of November, though he refused to specify exactly when for "security reasons."

"The decision to determine a date for receiving the security file came after a meeting between a high-level delegation from the local government and prime minister and ministers of defense, interior and national security on Thursday," Aqeel al-Khazaali told VOI.

"The meeting focused on Iraqi forces' capabilities to maintain security and stability in the province," he added.

SIGIR's recent review of the PRT program indicated that the province enjoys relative stability for its Iraqi residents and Iranian visitors, but the Coalition's Provincial Support Team had only ventured into the province three times during the past year because the threat to its personnel was so high.

The US had handed local bases back to the Iraqi army in late 2005, but had kept a small number of troops stationed in the city until an attack in January left five soldiers dead.

The men had been stationed within a secure compound that included Karbala's police headquarters when unknown gunmen gained entry, very possibly with the complicity of the local police.

TIME recently reported that these days only small contingents of US forces enter Karbala for meetings with local officials.

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