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More than 300 Iraqi soldiers celebrated the completion of a three-week basic training course Monday with a ceremony in Tikrit attended by American and Iraqi dignitaries, a Task Force Danger spokesman said.

The soldiers are from Samarra, a city of more than 200,000 that has been a center of resistance to U.S. occupation and the new Iraqi government’s authority and the site of a deadly car-bomb attack July 8 that killed five U.S. and two Iraqi soldiers.

They will patrol alongside the troops of Task Force 1-26, composed primarily of soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team and the New York National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment.

Lt. Gen. David Petraeus and Maj. Gen. John Batiste, joined Iraqi military and government leaders and international media at the ceremony, according to the 1st Infantry Division’s Web site.

Batiste, who is commander of the Tikrit-based Task Force Danger and the 1st Infantry Division, reportedly told the gathering that tens of millions of dollars have been made available to rebuild infrastructure in the troubled city, but none will be spent until it is peaceful.


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