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For the first time in three months, members of the town council in the embattled city of Jurf as Sakhir in southern Iraq has met and appealed for help in “reclaiming their city from insurgents,” U.S. military officials said Monday.

According to a military news release, 13 members of the council met Wednesday. The last time they tried to meet, in December, insurgents detonated a bomb in the courtyard of the council building, killing the groundskeeper.

U.S. military and Iraqi officials described the new council meeting as an effort to work with the Iraqi army and police forces in the area. Among the appeals were for new and upgraded security checkpoints. The council also appealed for the return of paid teachers in the area. Months of violence had forced most teachers to flee, but as of this week, some 150 teachers are now ready to resume work in the town’s schools.

Jurf as Sakhir has been caught in a seesaw battle between insurgents, Iraqi forces and American troops stationed nearby. In September, the U.S. military helped rebuild an Iraqi police station that had been destroyed by suicide bombers — and rebuilt by Iraqis and Americans — twice before. But just days after completion of the third renovation, another bomber struck, seriously damaging the structure, killing two Iraqi police and wounding eight American troops.

The city is located in a Sunni Arab date-growing region roughly 20 miles southwest of Baghdad. The area is one of the most politically and tactically complicated in Iraq, military officials have said: It straddles the Shiite-Sunni fault line south of Baghdad.


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