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Iraq takes over security control of Green Zone
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Iraqi authorities took over control of security of the Green Zone in central Baghdad, as part of recent security pact that comes into effect on Thursday.

The transfer of the heavily fortified Green Zone, that houses the Iraqi government offices and some foreign embassies, comes at the end of UN mandate that authorized the presence of U.S.-led troops in Iraq.

The Iraqi authorities also took over the main buildings of Saddam Hussein palace compound from the U.S. forces.

After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the palace of the toppled president was turned to be headquarters of the U.S. occupation forces and later the U.S. embassy, which moved to its new giant location in the Green Zone.

The handover is a sign of the shrinking influence of the United States in Iraq, and for many Iraqis it represents a significant step forward in their gradual dominion over their own affairs.

On Dec. 22, the UN decided not to extend multinational force mandate in Iraq.

Last month, Iraq and the United States have reached a deal allowing U.S. troops to stay in the war-torn state until the end of 2011.

(Xinhua News Agency January 1, 2009)

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