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Thursday, 1 January 2009

After 2 Million dead USSA hands Green Zone security to Iraq

The United States handed over security control of the Green Zone, a potent symbol of the American occupation, to Iraq on Thursday as a UN mandate for foreign troops ran out and bilateral military accords took effect.


In another step towards full sovereignty, Iraq was also handed control of Basra airport by British forces, who have been using the facility as their main base in southern Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

The formal transfer of control of the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad, during an emotional ceremony at the former palace of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, was hailed by Iraqi government and military officials.

"A year before it was just a dream to think about foreign troops withdrawing from Iraq but today that dream has become a reality," Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in an impassioned speech in one of halls of the sprawling palace.

"It is our right to consider this day the day of sovereignty and the beginning of the process of retrieving every inch of our nation's soil," Maliki said as the Iraqi flag was hoisted at the sandstone palace entrance.

"The palace is the sign of Iraqi sovereignty and it is a message to all Iraqis that our sovereignty has returned."

Maliki also declared the day a national holiday.

"I ask the Council of Ministers and the Presidency Council to announce this day as a national holiday."

Under the terms of an agreement signed in November, the US has officially decamped from the 14.5 square kilometre (5.6 square mile) Green Zone located on the west bank of the Tigris in central Baghdad. More