Monday, June 29, 2009

Fireworks over Baghdad as Iraqis take over cities

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi forces have assumed formal control of security in Baghdad and other cities after U.S. combat troops withdrew from urban areas.

A countdown clock broadcast on Iraqi TV ticked to zero as the midnight deadline passed for combat troops to pull back

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has declared a public holiday and proclaimed June 30 as "National Sovereignty Day."

A senior adviser to al-Maliki says "the withdrawal of American troops is completed now from all cities after everything they sacrificed for the sake of security." Sadiq Al-Rikabi told The Associated Press on Tuesday that "we are now celebrating the restoration of sovereignty."

The move is required under a U.S.-Iraqi security pact.

The Pentagon did not offer any comment to mark the passing of the deadline.

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