Iraqi troops to take over southern province security

Iraqi forces will take over security control of a southern province from coalition troops next month, state-run television quoted the Iraqi prime minister Nouri Maliki as saying today.

Al-Iraqiya quoted Maliki as saying that Iraqi security forces will take over Dhi Qar province in September.

It will be the second province to come under the full control of Iraqi troops after the July handover of the southern Muthana province from British troops.

Romania has a battalion of about 402 soldiers in Dhi Qar out of a total of 628 in the country.

Yesterday, the Romanian president said his country could withdraw some of its troops from Iraq as the Iraqi government takes over military control of Dhi Qar in 45 to 60 days at the most.

Earlier this month, Maliki’s spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Iraqi government forces would take over security responsibilities in September from Italian troops stationed in Nasiriyah, the capital of Dhi Qar province.

Italy has about 1,600 troops in the country, mostly in Nasiriyah, and that force is expected to be withdrawn by year’s end.

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