The U.S. military handed over to Iraqi forces on Monday security responsibilities for Mahmudiyah, one of the contentious areas south of Baghdad.
Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division held an “Iraqis in the Lead” transfer of area ceremony on Monday, giving responsibility to the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division.
The move is the latest in a series of handovers between American and Iraqi troops. The U.S. exit strategy from the country hinges on local forces being able to operate on their own.
Mahmudiyah, about 25 miles south of Baghdad, has long been one of the violence-wracked cities in the area sometimes called the “Triangle of Death.”
On Sunday, U.S. military officials said they had captured a “key terrorist cell leader” in Baghdad. The man was allegedly linked to a July 17 market attack in Mahmudiyah that killed 40 people and wounded 70 more.
In the months after such handover ceremonies, U.S. troops generally remain in the area to provide logistics and combat support to the Iraqi forces they’ve trained.