Good news out of Iraq, via Reuters:
The U.S. military handed over Iraq's Anbar province to Iraqi security forces on Monday, less than two years after it almost lost the western region to a Sunni Arab insurgency.
"We are in the last ten yards of this terrible fight. The goal is very near," Major-General John Kelly, commander of U.S. forces in Anbar, told U.S., Iraqi and tribal officials gathered near Anbar's government headquarters.
"Your lives and the lives of your children depend on victory."
Kelly and Anbar Governor Mamun Sami Rasheed embraced after signing a document making Anbar the 11th of Iraq's 18 provinces, and the first Sunni Arab province, to be returned to Iraqi control since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein. ...
Some 382 Iraqi civilians were killed in August, Iraqi government figures showed, far below the more than 1,770 killed in August 2007.
Violence against U.S. troops has also dropped over the last year. Eleven U.S. soldiers were killed in combat in Iraq in August, according to independent Web site www.icasualties.org, up from six in July. In August 2007, 56 U.S. troops and four British soldiers were killed in combat.
Ed Morrissey notes that the Iraq police force in Anbar has grown seven times larger than it was before the surge:
Before the surge, Anbar had 5,000 police officers, and the mainly Shi'ite Iraqi Army couldn't hold its positions in the primarily Sunni province. Now Anbar employs over 37,000 police officers, and a more balanced military has built trust with the local Sunni population, thanks to the assistance of the Americans. ...
American forces will start leaving Anbar, either for more contentious areas (like Diyala), Afghanistan, or home. They are leaving Anbar in victory, rather than being forced to retreat in defeat by politicians who wanted to run rather than fight. The people of Anbar and Iraq understand the difference, and can now control their own destiny rather than live as slaves to the lunatics of AQI.