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The final 10 female detainees in U.S. custody have been transferred to the Iraqi government, military officials said Tuesday.

The women, who were being held at Camp Cropper in Baghdad, have been transferred to an Iraqi-controlled women’s prison in Baghdad. They are either already convicted or scheduled to stand trial in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq.

Officials with Task Force 134 — which runs U.S. detainee operations in Iraq — could not say what charges the women faced by press time on Tuesday. An official with the command was looking into the records and researching whether all women detained in the future by U.S. forces would be immediately transferred to Iraqi custody.

Later Tuesday, task force officials announced they had transferred 39 "high-value detainees who were former members of the regime of Saddam Hussein." They also had been held at Camp Cropper, and "are all either already convicted or are scheduled to stand trial," officials said.

Task force officials called their transfer a "recognition that the Iraqi criminal courts and prison systems have become sufficiently robust to safeguard and prosecute these individuals in accordance with the rule of law."

Under the recently signed security agreement between Iraq and the U.S., all detainees are to be transferred to Iraqi control, beginning next month.

That daunting task has begun with a series of meetings designed to bring both parties into agreement on a process. According to military officials, at the first meeting — which took place last week — the Americans outlined a plan to transfer or release 1,500 detainees per month.

Currently, there are around 15,500 detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq. In 2008, around 18,000 detainees were released as the U.S. pushed forward with a plan to end its detention system.

There was another high-profile release of female detainees in 2006.

Five women were among 420 detainees released in January of that year, part of a series of releases.

But the timing of the women’s release was questioned. Days earlier, a group calling itself the Revenge Brigade had kidnapped U.S. journalist Jill Carroll and demanded that all female detainees in U.S. custody be released.

U.S. military officials strongly denied that releasing the female detainees had anything to do with the demands. Carroll was later freed by her captors.


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