In 2007, the U.S. military had as many as 35,000 troops in Anbar, Middle East Newsline reported.
Officials said the U.S. surge, combined with the recruitment of Sunni tribes
to the Iraqi security forces, led to a significant decline in violence.
"Anbar province, once considered a stronghold of Al Qaida, has been
reclaimed for the Iraqi people," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.
So far, nine of Iraq's 18 provinces have reverted to Baghdad's control.
The most violence provinces were identified as Diyala, Kirkuk, Nineveh and
Officials said Anbar has established a security committee to ensure
order without the direct involvement of the U.S.-led coalition. They said
the committee has been trained in disaster scenarios amid a U.S. withdrawal.
Under the plan, most of the U.S. troops would withdraw from Anbar in
May. After that, a small U.S. force would remain throughout 2008 and help
the Iraq Army and police.
"We clearly are hoping that the reconciliation and improvement in the
political environment that has taken place at the local and provincial level
over the past number of months will now meet further progress coming at the
national level," Gates said.