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Published:September 16th, 2008 10:57 EST
Petraeus Passes Command to General Raymond Odierno

Petraeus Passes Command to General Raymond Odierno

By SOP newswire

General Raymond Odierno has become the top U.S. commander in Iraq, replacing the man credited with helping reduce violence in the country and overseeing the surge of U.S. troops.

General Raymond OdiernoOdierno replaced General David Petraeus at a ceremony in Baghdad Tuesday presided over by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

General Petraeus oversaw a change in U.S. counter-insurgency strategy and the U.S. troop surge when he took command in February 2007. He will now lead the broader U.S. central command, which includes Afghanistan and Iraq.

Secretary Gates praised Petraeus as leading a "turnaround" in Iraq, and said Odierno`s task will be expanding Iraq`s security gains as U.S. troop levels fall.

The overall levels of violence in Iraq are at four-year lows, but Monday, three bombings killed 34 people, underscoring the challenges facing Odierno.

In Diyala province, a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a dinner party attended by Iraqi police, killing 22 people. In Baghdad, two car bombs killed 12 people.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.