BAGHDAD – The U.S. military has handed over Tariq Aziz and dozens of other members of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle to Iraqi authorities who will assume control Thursday of the last American-run detention facility in the country.

Although the Americans will continue to hold 200 problematic detainees, the changing of the guard at Camp Cropper will mean the end of a mammoth U.S. prison system that has processed more than 100,000 Iraqis in the seven years since the fall of Baghdad.

It will also close a chapter on one of the most bitter legacies of the war, the shocking images in 2004 of prisoners being abused by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib.

For Iraq, the transfer of detainees marks a milestone on the road to full sovereignty. But it also puts to the test a democratically elected government that many believe has learned few positive lessons from the abuses of Saddam’s regime.

Despite Abu Ghraib — or perhaps because of reforms in its wake — prisoners have more recently said they receive far better treatment in American custody than in Iraqi jails.

The revelation this year of a makeshift Iraqi prison where Sunni detainees were allegedly tortured was a black eye for the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Prisoners in other facilities have repeatedly complained about torture and beatings by the police, as well as overcrowding and poor conditions behind bars.

Camp Cropper, which currently houses about 1,800 inmates on the southwestern outskirts of Baghdad near the international airport, is the last of three U.S. prisons handed over to Iraqi control. Camp Bucca was transferred last September, and Camp Taji, a detention facility at an air base just north of Baghdad, in January.

Iraqi officials insist they are ready.

“We have been running dozens of prisons, and we are confident of our ability to run all prisons,” Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim told The Associated Press.

Ibrahim said Wednesday that 55 former regime figures have been handed over to Iraq — 26 this week and 29 about 10 months ago. Only one faces the death penalty: Abdul-Ghani Abdul-Ghafour, a senior Baath Party official convicted for his role in crushing a Shiite uprising in 1991, Ibrahim said.

Former members of Saddam’s regime have been housed in separate quarters from the other prisoners, with a communal TV and a vegetable garden that some of them use to grow tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs.