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U.S. Leaving Abu Ghraib Within 3 Months

ALEXANDRA ZAVIS / AP | March 10 2006

The U.S. military will leave the notorious Abu Ghraib prison and turn it over to Iraqi authorities after a new detention facility is completed in some three months, the U.S. command said.

Once the U.S. moves detainees to the new prison at Camp Cropper and other facilities, Abu Ghraib will be returned to Iraqi prison authorities, said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

The prison west of Baghdad, which currently holds over 4,500 detainees, came to symbolize American mishandling of some prisoners captured in Iraq, both during the U.S.-led invasion three years ago and in the fight to subdue the largely Sunni Muslim insurgency since then.

Widely publicized photographs of prisoner abuse by American military guards and interrogators at the facility led to intense global criticism of the war and fueled the insurgency.

Planning for the new facility at Camp Cropper began in 2004, Johnson said.

``Abu Ghraib prison is in a region that has been susceptible to attacks and it is difficult to support logistically, so there has always been the intention the move detainees to a more secure location,'' Johnson said. ``There are other associations with Abu Ghraib that are more emotional, but the primary reason for us has always been security.''

Lt. Col. Kier-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for U.S. military detainee operations, said completion of the new prison at Camp Cropper, where Saddam and his co-defendants have been held since their capture, would set the transfer in motion.

``We will transfer operations from Abu Ghraib to the new Camp Cropper once construction is completed there. No precise dates have been set, but the plan is to accomplish this (completion of construction) within the next two to three months,'' Curry said.

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