US hands over key war base to Iraqis
Baghdad, December 3, 2011
The US army has handed over to Iraqi control the sprawling Victory Base Complex near Baghdad, the main base from which the US-led war in Iraq was commanded.
"Victory Base Complex was officially signed over to the receivership of Iraqi government. The base is no longer under US control and is now under the full authority of the government of Iraq," said Colonel Barry Johnson, a spokesman for US Forces - Iraq on Friday.
The US troops had pulled out from the complex in advance and just five US bases in Iraq now remain to be handed over.
"All US troops departed as of last night," he said. "The air base which adjoined the complex has transferred to the control of the State Department, but has some troops there."
At its peak, the complex housed more than 100,000 people - some 42,000 military personnel and more than 65,000 contractors.
It includes an area known as Camp Victory, a sprawling collection of canals, man-made lakes, palm trees and palaces from which the US war in Iraq was run.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Major General Qassim Atta yesterday said an explosion near parliament was a botched attempt to kill the prime minister, after an official termed it an attempt on the parliament speaker's life.
At least one person was killed and two wounded in the blast near the Iraqi parliament building on Monday, the cause of which was disputed. MP Muayid Al Tayyeb was one of those hurt.
"The intelligence information that we obtained showed that this operation was conducted to target the prime minister," Baghdad security spokesman Atta said.
"The person was supposed to bring the car inside the parliament parking, and leave it there for four days until (Prime Minister) Al Maliki attended a session of the parliament," he said.
"He failed to bring the car inside the parking, so he blew himself up," he said, adding that "the car entered the Green Zone with a convoy."-Reuters