Nearly 300 Iraqi men from Anbar province were signed up as army recruits during a week of recruiting in Fallujah and Habbaniyah, U.S. military officials said Friday.

The effort is part of a continuing program to recruit men from the province, which is often called the “heart” of the Iraqi insurgency. In addition to bolstering the new Iraqi forces in the region, recruiting in the areas often takes jobless men off the streets and away from the lure of conducting attacks in return for money.

“They looked enthusiastic about doing this, and that’s a good sign,” Marine Corps Maj. William Gerst, a Regimental Combat Team 5 assistant operations officer, was quoted as saying in a news release. “It’s a sign that they notice we’re here to help them and they are taking control of their own destiny.”

The recruits were screened with literacy tests, medical exams, physical fitness tests and a background security check, officials said. They will spend the next month in an Iraqi-run boot camp in Habbaniyah. The soldiers will then have a choice of which Iraqi division they will be assigned to, officials said.

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