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Petraeus And Crocker On Iraq

Petraeus And Crocker On Iraq
Petraeus And Crocker On Iraq

Thirty-thousand additional U.S. troops were sent to Iraq earlier this year to help the one-hundred-thirty thousand U.S. and other coalition troops already there stem rising violence by terrorists and sectarian militias. General David Petraeus, commander of the multi-national forces in Iraq, says that this “surge” is largely meeting its military objectives:

“In recent months, in the face of tough enemies and the brutal summer heat of Iraq, coalition and Iraqi security forces have achieved progress in the security arena. Though the improvements have been uneven across Iraq, the overall number of security incidents in Iraq has declined in eight of the past twelve weeks, with the numbers of incidents in the last two weeks at the lowest levels seen since June 2006. One reason for the decline in incidents is that coalition and Iraqi forces have dealt significant blows to Al Qaeda-Iraq. Though Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq remain dangerous, we have taken away a number of their sanctuaries and gained the initiative in many areas. We have also disrupted Shia militia extremists, capturing the head and numerous other leaders of the Iranian-supported Special Groups, along with a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative supporting Iran’s activities in Iraq.”

Coalition and Iraqi forces, says General Petraeus, have helped reduce ethno-sectarian violence. This has brought down the number of deaths substantially since December 2006. General Petraeus says that the number of overall civilian deaths in Iraq has also declined during this period – although civilian deaths remain at “troubling levels.”

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker says that “extraordinary” progress has been made in bringing security to Iraq’s al-Anbar province:

“Six months ago, violence was rampant, our forces were under daily attack, and Iraqis were cowering from the intimidation of Al Qaeda. But Al Qaeda overplayed its hand in Anbar and Anbaris began to reject its excesses - be they beheading school children or cutting off peoples' fingers as punishment for smoking. Recognizing the coalition could help eject Al Qaeda, the tribes began to fight with us, not against us, and the landscape in Anbar is dramatically different as a result.”

The United States will continue “to assist Iraqis in the pursuit of national reconciliation,” says Ambassador Crocker. Progress on this front, he says, “may come in many forms and must ultimately be done by Iraqis themselves.”