Iraqi army forces on Monday (September 10th) handed over security responsibilities in all cities of the Anbar province to the provincial police command. The handover took place after arming and training all branches of the local police to ensure the security of the province, security officials said.
The handover was ordered "after the security situation in Anbar had stabilised, and the role of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups had become limited with support and backing by the Iraqi army", Maj. Gen. Jamal al-Dulaimi, from the Anbar police command, told Mawtani.
"The withdrawal of army forces from the districts and sub-districts of Anbar was completed after the deployment of police forces to replace the withdrawing army units," Al-Dulaimi said. "This was to ensure that no loopholes would be left which could be exploited by the terrorists."
"Withdrawing troops will be regrouped in security camps outside the cities, and there will be communications and a joint operations room for intervention in the event of a need for the army to support the police in the execution of their various duties," al-Dulaimi added.
"All branches of the police possess considerable experience and a great ability to foil terrorists' plans and to protect citizens and [government] institutions," Brig. Gen. Salah al-Obaidi from the Anbar operations command, told Mawtani.
"The police made major strides through providing training courses and equipping units with modern armaments and supplies, such as communications and observation gear," he said.
"The people of Anbar, whether tribal sheikhs, religious scholars, social figures or citizens, have provided support and assistance to Iraqi forces during the past years in the fight against terrorism and crime, making Anbar stable thanks to the resolve of its people" al-Obaidi added.
Sheikh Ahmed al-Hiti, a religious leader from the city of Ramadi, told Mawtani that "the withdrawal of the army from Anbar is normal."
"In the past, their presence was essential because of the security situation," he added. "But now, the police forces are able to maintain security, hunt down terrorist groups, and deter any criminal scheme that may undermine the security of Iraq."
"Anbar will not go back to square one, because of the awareness of its people and the courage of its police forces, which has offered a number of their martyrs in the fight against this black terrorism and uncovered terrorist schemes that do not bode well for Iraq," he added.
"A wave of joy swept the people and tribesmen of Anbar after the police forces assumed the security responsibilities from the army, because every security force has its own tasks and duties," Sheikh Saleh Al-Alyawi, a tribal leader in Anbar, told Mawtani.
"This transition shows the advanced level attained by all Iraqi security forces, especially in equipment and numbers, thanks to the concern and attention shown by the Iraqi government and its ministries."
Al-Alyawi praised the role of the Iraqi army, which he described as "prominent and important in fighting terrorists during the last period."
"The role of the army also exceeded its duties, because it helped follow up on the provision of services and other matters that are of interest to the citizens," he said.
"Army units took part in cleaning up the streets, building parks, supporting the orphans and the families of martyrs, and providing other aspects of social assistance," he added.