Polish troops take control over south-central part of Iraq as new cabinet members take oath
The top U.S. commander in Iraq on Wednesday symbolically marked the transfer of control over the south-central part of the country to an international force led by Poland.
In Baghdad, the interim Governing Council swore in members of the newly appointed 25-member Cabinet.
While military control was passed to the Poles, the handover of the holy city of Najaf was delayed after the car bombing Friday outside the Imam Ali shrine that killed scores of people, including leading Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said the delay was appropriate and the U.S. Marines were needed in the area for a while longer.
Sanchez said the transfer of authority delivered a message that the U.S.-led force occupying Iraq was a broad-based 30-nation coalition.
"It's indeed a historic moment. It's a moment where the international community has stepped up and turned a nine-nation coalition into a 30-nation coalition which sends an unmistakable message," Sanchez told troops from the states participating in the international force.
Maj. Gen. Andrzej Tyszkiewicz, commander of the international force, said his troops will not be occupiers, the AP reported. "Even though we have different uniforms and different flags, we are unified by one purpose. That purpose is to help the Iraqi people wipe out the traces of Saddam Hussein's monstrous dictatorship and build a new basis of peaceful existence."
Meanwhile, a senior US general said on Wednesday that Washington would welcome Turkish troops in a peacekeeping force in Iraq.
US General James L. Jones, the commander of American forces in Europe, met with Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul and General Hilmi Ozkok, the chief of general staff, in the capital Ankara to review a possible troop deployment that could include several thousand Turkish soldiers.
"I think any help that can be given to the very important
efforts ongoing in Iraq would be welcomed by the United
States," Jones said. (Albawaba.com)
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