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Iraq Presidency Council approves US troop pact

Violence erupts in the wake of security accord

Iraq's Presidential Council headed by Jalal Talabani and his two deputies Adel Abdul Mahdi and Tariq al-Hashemi signed the security pact known as the Status of Forces Agreement with Washington on Thursday as violence erupted in the province of Anbar in western Iraq on the same day.

The Council's decision was the final step needed to seal the deal with the United States, scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of 2011 after its invasion under the Bush Administration in 2003.

"The Presidency Council has endorsed the security pact with the United States. That means this pact is put into force," Presidency Council chief of staff Naseer al-Ani told Reuters.

Yet approval was given on the condition that a referendum will be held on the pact no later than July 30. The pact also replaces the UN mandate for foreign presence in Iraq.

The agreement which caused much controversy and heated arguments between parliamentary blocs last month was made possible by improvements in the security situation in Iraq this past year, according to AFP.

The Presidency Council has endorsed the security pact with the United States. That means this pact is put into force

Naseer al-Ani, Presidency Council chief of staff

Violence continues in Iraq

Meanwhile violence has not ebbed in the country as 13 people were killed and 122 injured in two suicide truck bombing blasts in the town of Fallujah, previously the site of Sunni Arab insurgency against U.S. forces and Shiite-led government.

Iraqi police said that two suicide bombers carried out the attacks from one car near a police station in west Fallujah while the second truck bombing targeted a police station in the police district east of the town.

Despite the marked drop in violence in Iraq over the past year, curbing violence remains difficult since concrete barriers erected as part of the surge strategy have been removed, making it easier for truck bomb attacks to take place.