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U.S. marines shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan

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American and Iraqi officials announced on Wednesday that United States forces would hand over control of the Anbar Province, the scene of some of the war's most gruesome violence, to the Iraqi military as soon as next Monday. Most of the departing US soldiers are marines, many of whom will be sent to Afghanistan, where conflict has renewed between NATO forces and a resurgent Taliban.

The move out of Anbar and into Afghanistan appears to be as much a vote of confidence in Iraqi forces as it is an indication of US concerns about the war in Afghanistan.

Speaking to Agence France-Presse at the Pentagon, US Marine Corps commandant Gen. James Conway outlined the case for a speedy withdrawal from Anbar and described Afghanistan as "a stiffer fight."

"Anbar remains a dangerous place, but the ever growing ability of the Iraqi security forces continues to move us closer to seeing Iraqi control of the province," the general said.
He expressed the hope that the handover of the Anbar province to Iraqi control will allow the Pentagon to redeploy troops elsewhere.
"More US forces are needed in Afghanistan," he said. "However, in order to do more in Afghanistan, our marines have got to see relief elsewhere."...
"It's our view that if there is a stiffer fight going someplace else, in a much more expeditionary environment where the Marine air-ground task force really seems to have a true and enduring value, then that's where we need to be," he said about Afghanistan.
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