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US General Petraeus says Iraqi forces ready to take over control in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Sept 15 (KUNA) -- US General David Petraeus said on Monday prior to his departure as Commander of US forces in Iraq that Iraqi forces are ready to take over control of the country.
General Petraeus arrived in Baghdad to prepare to hand over his role to General Raymond Odierno, his second-in-command, in a ceremony organized by the Iraqi defense ministry and will also be attended by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday.
"Iraqi forces are now capable of taking security matters in all of Iraq," General Petraeus, adding that "current military operations are taking over by Iraqi military." General Petraeus farewell ceremony was also attended by Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul-Qader Al-Obaidi.
There are 110 Iraqi forces regiments who are leading operations in Iraqi, excluding Iraqi national police and local guards, General Petraeus added.
His remarks came hours after two car bombs exploded in the Baghdad district of Karrada, killing 12 people and wounding nearly 40.
Arriving for his eighth visit to Iraq since he took over at the Pentagon in December 2006, Gates said the areas in which US forces would be engaged in Iraq would continue to narrow.
The US military is also expected to transfer security control in two more provinces this year, putting Iraqi forces in charge of security in 13 out of the country's 18 regions.
Odierno, who served as the commander of US forces in Iraq for 15 months until February, will be promoted to the role of general on Tuesday. (end) ahh.mb KUNA 160020 Sep 08NNNN