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15,800 detainees remain in custody in Iraq

Nov. 29, 2008 at 7:28 PM

BAGHDAD, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- More than 17,500 detainees have been freed from custody in Iraq this year, leaving about 15,800 in custody, U.S.-led coalition forces said Saturday.

Coalition officials said in a news release that it had been determined those released no longer posed a threat to Iraqi citizens, Iraqi security forces or the government.

"It is our responsibility to release detainees in a safe and orderly manner according to the Geneva Convention," said Brig. Gen. David E. Quantock, deputy commanding general of detainee operations. "We're releasing an average of 50 a day, 1,500 a month, which is a very good pace."

Quantock said detainees are offered education and vocational training meant to give them skills to become productive members of Iraqi society.

The general also said efforts by coalition forces to provide a safe and secure environment in Iraq have been paying off.

"We don't want to undo the hard work and sacrifice of the (Iraqi security forces) and coalition forces by mass releasing detainees back into the community," he said. "Our No. 1 priority is to ensure the safety of the

Iraqi people, the security forces and the detainees."

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