Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Surge News: Continues to Improve

As to hard numbers:

The rate of killings of US troops in Iraq has been on the decline, down by 60 percent, since the launch of the new security measures in Baghdad, according to statistics revealed by the Multi-National Force -Iraq Combined Press Information Centre.

Only 17 members of the US military in Iraq have been killed since February 14 till March 13, compared to 42 from January 13 to February 13; the rate was on the decline during the first month of the security crackdown, compared to a month before.

Two of the 17 soldiers died at US Baghdad camps of non-combat causes.

The remarkable decrease in killings among the US troops came at a time when more of these troops were deployed in the Iraqi capital, especially in districts previously regarded as extremely hazardous for them such as Al-Sadr City, Al-Azamiyah, and Al-Doura.

Meanwhile, US attacks on insurgent strongholds north of Baghdad curbed attacks against helicopters. Before the new security plan, many such craft were downed leaving 20 soldiers dead.

From Kuwait New Agency (KUNA)

In other related news:

Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell told reporters at a news conference that the decrease in violence has created an opportunity for new progress.
. . . .
“Iraqi forces are getting better each day, and are demonstrating the commitment needed to defend the government and the people,” he added.

He cited two recent incidents in which Iraqi forces demonstrated their willingness to defend all citizens. On March 10, a terrorist attempted to penetrate Sadr City, a Shiia enclave in Eastern Baghdad. Seven Iraqi soldiers manning a checkpoint were killed, but the the unit foiled the attack. Had the bomber been able to gain access, hundreds could have been killed, Caldwell said.

On March 12, another terrorist tried to take a car bomb into a crowded area in Ramadi. “The Iraqi security forces did not let him succeed,” Caldwell said. “They stopped him at the gate with small-arms fire, causing him to prematurely detonate his car bomb.”

The attack wounded three Iraqi soldiers and eight civilians, including two children. But the actions of the Iraqi forces prevented a greater tragedy, the general said.

In both cases, terrorists were again “trying to spark that cycle of violence by creating another high-profile massacre,” Caldwell said.

“For decades, the Iraqi army was used to divide and oppress the Iraqi people,” he said. “Now the Iraqi people are being protected by an Iraqi army that is demonstrating great resolve and is starting to prove its loyalty to all.”

The decrease in violence allows political and economic progress in the country, Caldwell said. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki – a Shiia Muslim – visited Ramadi yesterday and met with Sunni tribal leaders and the Anbar provincial governor. The prime minister said terrorists driven from Baghdad as part of the security plan will try to move to other areas of the country. He promised to help the provincial forces fight the insurgents.

All of this requires patience and determination, Caldwell said. The Baghdad security plan is well started, but it is in its early stage, Caldwell said. Two of the five U.S. brigades that ultimately will work in the city have arrived, and another is in Kuwait. Defense Department officials said the surge will be finished by the end of May.

“We are seeing positive signs in the streets,” Caldwell said. “There are signs that life is improving for the people in Iraq. There has been a decrease in violence, but things need to get better. We still need to be patient.”

Read the whole story here.

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