Iraqi forces were in control of towns and cities nationwide yesterday after the pullout of US troops six years after the invasion, but a bloody car bombing underscored the tough challenge ahead.
US President Barack Obama hailed the US withdrawal as an “important milestone” but warned of difficult days of bloodshed and violence ahead.
The landmark handover was marred on Tuesday by a car bomb attack on a popular market in Kirkuk.
Thirty-three people were killed and 92 wounded including women and children, according to local authorities.
Meanwhile, Iraq yesterday approved a contract for BP Plc and China’s CNPC to develop its massive Rumaila oilfield but rejected other bids for deals it had hoped would revive its struggling oil and gas sector.
The Cabinet refused offers for several further fields submitted by other foreign companies, some of which had been revised after a major tender on Tuesday. Two gas fields that were offered to foreign energy firms for development will instead be solely managed by state-owned companies, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said yesterday.