BAGHDAD (AP) – The U.S. Marine Corps is leaving Iraq.
The U.S. military says the Marines will formally handover control on Saturday of Iraq’s western desert to the Army during a ceremony at Camp Ramadi, about 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad.
The handover marks the end of the Marine mission in an area once considered a main battleground of the insurgency.
The Army’s 1st Armored Division is now responsible for both Baghdad and the vast desert province of Anbar.
The departure of the Marines marks the beginning of an accelerated American drawdown in Iraq.
President Barack Obama has ordered all but 50,000 troops out of the country by Aug. 31, 2010, with most to leave after the March 7 parliamentary election.