Iraq's 4th Army Division has assumed responsibility for security operations in the region encompassing most of Salah ad Din and At ta Min provinces north of Baghdad. The area includes the cities of Tikrit, Kirkuk, and Samarra. In July, Iraqi forces took over security responsibilities in the southern province of Muthanna.
In a joint statement, Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and U.S. Army General George Casey said, "these turnovers from coalition forces to Iraqi security forces reflect the increased operational capacity of the Iraqi security forces." They said this represents the halfway mark in the effort to put, "all Iraqi security forces in the lead in coordinating, planning, and conducting security operations in Iraq."
Ambassador Khalilzad and General Casey reaffirmed the U.S.-led coalition's continued support as the Iraqi government, "seek[s] to provide peace and prosperity for all of Iraq's peoples."
Despite an increase in sectarian violence and insurgent attacks in Iraq, Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, said, "the Iraqi forces will be handed security in all Iraqi provinces by the end of the year."
President George W. Bush said, "as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down":
"The enemies of a free Iraq will do everything they can to stop the progress. That should tell us something about the enemies of a free Iraq. Who wouldn't want the people's will to be expressed? Who wouldn't want a government to be able to meet the needs of the people? Those who kill the innocent lives or those who have no concept of liberty, have no sense of justice, have no respect for human rights and human dignity."
The U.S.-led coalition, says Mr. Bush, "will continue to train the Iraqis, so they can help the unity government secure the peace."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.