BAGHDAD, June 20 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said
Saturday that the U.S. troops' withdrawal from Iraqi cities and towns by the end
of this month would be a "great victory" for Iraqis.
"It is a great victory for Iraqis as we are going to take our first step
toward ending the foreign presence in Iraq," Maliki said during a conference in
Baghdad for leaders of ethnic Turkmen minority.
However, Maliki warned that militant groups would try to stage more attacks
to reverse security gains, calling on Iraqis to unite to stop them.
"They (militant groups) are preparing themselves to move in the dark to
destabilize the situation, but we will be ready for them," Maliki said.
A series of deadly attacks rampant during the past few months in Iraqi
cities, casting doubt on the ability of Iraqi security forces to take over from
U.S. troops in controlling security and defeat insurgency of both Shiite and
Sunni militant groups in the war-torn country.
As part of a security pact signed between Baghdad and Washington last year,
U.S. troops will withdraw from Iraq's cities, towns and villages by June 30,
2009 to their bases, and will leave the country by December 31, 2011.
Tension escalates in