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US forces to free Iranian diplomats

Press TV - As part of its security accord with the Baghdad government, the US military will release the Iranian diplomats it took hostage in Iraq two years ago.

Iran's ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, said the diplomats would be released under the terms of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) -- which requires the US military to deliver more than 1500 prisoners, including the non-Iraqi nationals, to the Baghdad government.

Meanwhile, Mohsen Hakim, the Tehran representative of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, has announced that the Iranian diplomats would be handed to the Iraqi government on Tuesday.

The Iranian diplomats were mostly abducted when US forces raided the Iranian consulate office in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil.

The announcement comes as US forces are preparing to withdraw from Iraqi cities on Tuesday, beginning an end to its six-year occupation of the oil-rich country.

US military troops are prohibited from entering Iraqi cities without the permission of the Baghdad government.

News of their departure has brought joy and happiness to Iraq with the Baghdad government declaring June 30 a national holiday, calling it "a day of national sovereignty".

"All Iraqis are happy today because it's the first day that they're going to protect themselves," said Baghdad civil defense spokesman Tahsin al-Sheikhli.

"We know that Iraq's enemies will attempt to disrupt security but our forces are ready to take them on," he added.

A complete US military pullout is expected to take place by the end of 2011.

... Payvand News - 06/30/09 ... --

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