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Iraqis take control of Muthanna province

BAGHDAD, July 14 (UPI) -- British troops have handed over control of a relatively quiet province in Iraq to the government but there were concerns insurgents may try to disrupt the process.

Iraqi military's full control of the province of Muthanna is the first since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, reports The Washington Post.

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Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who attended the transfer ceremony in the provincial capital of Samawa, warned about insurgency in the future although the region has remained mostly peaceful throughout the conflict.

"Terrorists who want to disrupt the handover of security and the success of the national unity government will not spare any effort to sabotage this step," Maliki said, The Post reported.

In a joint statement, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and the U.S. commander in Iraq Gen. George W. Casey Jr. described the handover a milestone in "the successful development of Iraq's capability to govern and protect itself as a sovereign and democratic nation."

Elsewhere in Iraq, latest violence in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities Thursday left 32 people dead in sectarian violence.

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