(image: Christoph Bangert for The New York Times. December 2006. Najaf. nytimes.com)
In a ceremony closed to the public, the US authorities handed over Najaf province (with a a population of approx 1 Mn Shia) to the Iraqi Government and Iraqi Army forces on Thursday.
Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Saad Fakhrildeen, of the LA Times reported the event at which the startled US handers - over , who were treated to a gesture of martial fealty uncommon to them but frequent in the time of Saddam Hussein.
As U.S. commanders and guests watched, the burly commandos in dark green T-shirts began taking bites out of live frogs.
One man knelt, placed a rabbit belly-up on his lap, and cut it open with his military knife. He screamed as he bit the rabbit's heart, then handed the carcass to his companions, who began gnawing away, blood flowing down their cheeks.
Maj. Gen. Kurt Cichowski, who attended the ceremony, told the Associated Press."Our soldiers do a lot of things, but I've never seen them do anything like that,"
Outside the uninvited families of dead Police officers mutely held pictures of their fathers and husbands, brothers.- Bag News
The day previously in Baghdad, police found 76 dead bodies, many had been shot, and some showed signs of torture, police said. Two suicide car bombings also killed at least 19 people in the capital.