U.S. troops have withdrawn from the part of the northern city of Mosul situated on the right bank of the Tigris River, and have handed security of this vital part of the restive city to Iraqi forces.
The part now under Iraqi control makes up the largest portion of the city of nearly 2 million people. U.S. troops are still present in the city's left bank, parts of which are still no-go areas.
During the hand-over ceremony attended by senior U.S. army officers, Ninevah Provincial Governor Duraid Kashmoula vowed that there "will be no place for terrorists" in his city. "We are determined to defeat terrorism," he said.
Iraqi troops and police officers celebrated the handover, hailing it as "a step forward toward regaining full sovereignty."
Residents have nicknamed the right bank, which is the most restive part of the city, "the second Falluja."
The situation is relatively quiet in this part of Mosul, but residents are wary that anti-U.S. and anti-government groups will utilize the U.S. withdrawal to regroup and mount new attacks.
Following the handover, Governor Kashmoula held a meeting with Nineveh Province tribal chieftains, where Mosul is the capital, asking for them to help reinstate security. He urged them to help security forces hunt down "terrorists, saboteurs and criminals whose aim is to destabilize the country."
He said violence in the provinces of Nineveh, Anbar and Salahuddin, the strongholds of anti-American resistance, was receding. But he said that Iraqi troops could not bring peace without popular support.
Under a new security plan, control of all entry points to Mosul will be intensified. The governor said, "All people and vehicles entering the city will be registered and no one will be allowed to enter without proper identification papers. Kashmoula urged tribal leaders to oust suspects from the villages where they live and aid police in their searches and hunts for militants.