Thursday, January 01, 2009

Green Zone Handed Over to Iraqi's

Another Iraqi milestone...
Reporting from Baghdad -- As Iraqi schoolchildren sang their country's praises and a band played, the United States formally handed over military control of the heavily fortified Green Zone to Iraqi troops today, a first major step in the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.

For Iraqis, the Green Zone, a walled-off 4-square mile community in Baghdad's core, has come to symbolize the U.S. occupation of their country. Home to about 30,000 residents -- including 14,000 U.S. and coalition forces -- it also encompasses Saddam Hussein's opulent Republican Palace, which was captured by American troops in April 2003 and was, until last month, the site of the U.S. Embassy.

Securing the Green Zone has been, until today, the responsibility of Americans. It has been considered the safest place in Baghdad, with every car checked and every person searched and scanned before being granted entry.

Now, Iraqis trained by U.S. troops are in charge of its security.

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