Baghdad: Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki on Monday announced that control of the country?s southernmost province would be handed over to Iraqi security forces in July.
"Muthanna is the first Iraqi province that will have the honour of being transferred from multinational forces to Iraqi forces," Maliki told a news conference in Baghdad.
The transfer of control will be the first of its kind to take place in Iraq's 15 provinces outside of the relatively peaceful Kurdish north.
Hundreds of US and Iraqi troops pushed into an eastern section of one of Iraq's most violent cities earlier in the day in the latest step to hunt down insurgents.
Helicopters flew over the Iraqi town of Ramadi and warplanes could be heard overhead as the coalition forces stepped up their campaign to bolster their presence in the rebel stronghold.
Also today, ten people died and a further four were injured when a suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle at an Iraqi army checkpoint in Baghdad.
Despite a government crackdown on insurgency, a wave of violence has swept the capital since the death of terror leader Abu Musab Al Zarqawi on June 7.
On Friday, insurgent attacks killed 43 people in and around Baghdad.