US forces in Tikrit, hometown of ousted president Saddam Hussein, has evacuated an important presidential site and handed it over to the Iraqi army, an official said on Sunday.
In a symbolic ceremony, in one of the palaces that still have Saddam's name carved on its walls, US army's 1st Brigade forces evacuated the site in al-Awja, some 10 km south of Tikrit, which was housing the brigade's headquarters, an official from Tikrit US- Iraqi liaison office told Xinhua.
The Iraqi army 4th Brigade replaced the US forces in the site, according to the official.
Abdul Aziz Al Mufti, the Kurdish commander of the Iraqi Brigade, said that raising the Iraqi flag on this important site marks regaining full sovereignty of Iraq not very far.
Mufti said that his brigade, which is formed of recruits from Salahudin, Sulaimaniya and Kirkuk, would shoulder the task of security in cooperation with the various social and political activities in Salahudin province.
The US evacuation comes as part of American plan to withdraw from the city centers and hand them over to Iraqi forces.
Two weeks ago, the US forces evacuated the headquarters of their engineering forces in one of the sites west of Tikrit and handed it over to the Iraqi side.