The U.S. military has handed over security control of the western province of Anbar to Iraqi forces.

The province was once a hotbed of the Sunni Arab insurgency, and the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war.

The handover marks a major milestone in America's strategy of turning security over to the Iraqis so U.S. troops can eventually go home.

In the ceremony Monday in the provincial capital of Ramadi, the top American commander in Anbar, Marine Maj. Gen. John Kelly, said Al Qaeda has not been entirely defeated in Anbar. But he said, "their end is near."