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The Marine unit responsible for overseeing operations in the western part of Anbar province has handed over command to its successor unit, officials said Friday.

Regimental Combat Team 7 passed control to Regimental Combat Team 2, ending the former unit’s yearlong tour in a volatile area of Iraq stretching from Fallujah out to the border lands in the west.

More than 300 Marines and sailors from the regiment arrived over the past several weeks as the II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) takes command of operations in western Iraq. RCT-2 is the command element for 4,000 servicemembers and “will spend the next year training and operating with Iraqi security forces in an effort to disrupt and interdict insurgent activity,” officials said.

“The transition of authority is part of a regularly scheduled rotation of U.S. and other Coalition Forces in Al Anbar Province as II MEF (Fwd) relieves the California-based I MEF (Fwd),” Marine Corps officials said.

RCT-2’s area of responsibility now includes more than 30,000 square miles stretching from west of the Euphrates River to the Jordanian and Syrian borders. The area includes Haditha, Qaim and other cities.

“The unit before us has done a phenomenal job with the Iraqi forces and Iraqi people. We’ll try to build on what they did,” Col. H. Stacy Clardy III, RCT-2 commander, said.

Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based Regimental Combat Team 2 is on its third Iraq tour and second time in western Anbar.

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