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An Iraqi battalion commander leads Iraqi Army Gen. Imad Majhool Somyday and U.S. Army Col. John Tully past Iraqi troops Thursday during a transfer of authority ceremony in northern Babil Province.
An Iraqi battalion commander leads Iraqi Army Gen. Imad Majhool Somyday and U.S. Army Col. John Tully past Iraqi troops Thursday during a transfer of authority ceremony in northern Babil Province. (Monte Morin / S&S)
An Iraqi battalion commander leads Iraqi Army Gen. Imad Majhool Somyday and U.S. Army Col. John Tully past Iraqi troops Thursday during a transfer of authority ceremony in northern Babil Province.
An Iraqi battalion commander leads Iraqi Army Gen. Imad Majhool Somyday and U.S. Army Col. John Tully past Iraqi troops Thursday during a transfer of authority ceremony in northern Babil Province. (Monte Morin / S&S)
A second lieutenant with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division salutes his unit colors and his nation's flag.
A second lieutenant with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division salutes his unit colors and his nation's flag. (Monte Morin / S&S)
Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division march past a reviewing stand.
Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division march past a reviewing stand. (Monte Morin / S&S)
Iraqi army soldiers cheer and raise their rifles Thursday following the ceremony.
Iraqi army soldiers cheer and raise their rifles Thursday following the ceremony. (Monte Morin / S&S)
Iraqi army soldiers dance and cheer Thursday following the ceremony
Iraqi army soldiers dance and cheer Thursday following the ceremony (Monte Morin / S&S)

MUSAYYIB, Iraq — The Iraqi army assumed control Thursday of nearly 100 square miles of territory in northern Babil province, following a spirited ceremony in which Iraqi troops pumped their fists and chanted “Leave it, we can handle it!”

The 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, which shares a section of Forward Operating Base Iskandariyah with U.S. forces, will take over a share of patrol and operation responsibilities from the 2nd or “War Horse” Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division.

The Iraqi battalion will patrol areas close to the base, which lies along the Sunni-Shiite fault line 35 miles southwest of Baghdad. The handover was the latest in a nationwide campaign to transfer authority and control from coalition troops to the new Iraqi government and military.

“This is a step toward normalcy,” said Col. John Tully, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th ID. “The time is right for the Iraqi army to take the lead in north Babil province.”

Responsibility for the area now belongs to Brig. Gen. Imad Majhool Somyday Mutalak Alslawi.

Iraqi troops will continue to be assisted by U.S. forces in logistics, intelligence and attack aviation, Tully said.

A year ago, only seven Iraqi army battalions owned their own operational territories nationwide. Now, three Iraqi army divisions, nine Iraqi army brigades and 24 Iraqi army battalions are responsible for patrolling their own sections of Iraq.

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