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Fourth Iraqi Province Transfers to Local Control

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2007 – Maysan province has become the fourth of 18 Iraqi provinces to transfer to provincial Iraqi control, marking another step toward a stable and secure Iraq, according to Multinational-Force Iraq officials.

In a ceremony today at the provincial capital of Al Amarah, Iraqi officials assumed total control of governing the southern province. The province is in the British-led Multinational Division Southeast area of operations.

Multinational Force Iraq officials said the transfer shows that the Iraqi government is keeping its election promises to the people. “Step-by-step, the Iraqi government is assuming control of the country,” an official said.

The transfer also gives Iraqis security responsibility for the majority Shiia province.

The first province to transfer to Iraqi control was Muthanna in July 2006. Neighboring Dhi Qar province transferred in September 2006. Najaf province transferred in December 2006. The remaining 14 provinces will transfer when they meet the conditions, officials said.

In Maysan, Iraqi police and soldiers will assume control of all law enforcement and security operations. Coalition units will continue to partner with Iraqi security forces, and small military and police training teams will continue to help Iraqi forces as they gain more hands-on experience, an official said.

Iraqi officials can call on coalition forces in Basra province if they face a situation they cannot handle, the official said.

Coalition forces will also help Iraqi border police. The province has a long border with Iran and coalition forces will continue to help the police patrol the border, the official said.

Investment in the province will continue. In all, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed more than 200 projects totalingalmost $100 million in Maysan Province. There are currently 41 projects under construction and another 15 projects planned. Health care, electricity and water are the most important projects in the province, the official said.

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