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Daily Archives: June 21, 2009

SundayTimes

 
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US hands over Sadr City base to Iraq

The US army handed over a base in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Sadr City, once a bastion for anti-US insurgents, to Iraqi forces yesterday as the deadline nears for its pullout from Iraq's cities.
The transfer of the Joint Security Station (JSS) comes barely more than a week before a June 30 deadline for US forces to pull out of Iraq's urban centres as required by a security accord signed between Baghdad and Washington in November.
"Today [yesterday] this base returns to its true owner," said US Major General Daniel Bolger, the commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division.
"This land has been bought with a very high price – 136 US soldiers and 184 Iraqi soldiers shed their blood to protect Sadr City [between January 2006 and present]."
He added: "We Americans did not give you this place – you have earned it, paid with Iraqi blood, sweat and tears."
In the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, American forces were welcomed in Sadr City, a sprawling, predominantly Shiite, slum in northeastern Baghdad that is home to around 1.3 million people.
But soon after, it became a base for radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army militia was repeatedly accused of sectarian violence against Sunnis and attacks against US forces before it was routed by US-backed Iraqi forces in March, April and May 2008.
Master Sergeant Nicholas Conner said earlier that the handover would not be the "first in that area and will not be the last."
"US troops will continue to provide support our Iraqi security partners, as requested, under the articles of the Security Agreement," he said.
A JSS is a small urban military base in which US and Iraqi soldiers work together, which operates under an Iraqi flag, and from which US and Iraqi troops carry out joint patrols.

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