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Iraqi Forces Making Progress, Says Area U.S. Commander

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2005 – Iraqi security forces in the northwest region of Iraq, around the city of Mosul, are making steady progress and starting operations on their own, the area's top commander said today.

The 3rd Brigade of the 1st Iraqi Intervention Force has been providing security in downtown Mosul since early March and has been doing a great job, said Army Maj. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, commander of the Multinational Force Northwest. The Iraqi brigade continues to receive American support in the areas of command and control, quick-reaction forces, medical evacuation and intelligence sharing, he said.

In addition to the 3rd Brigade, several battalion-level Iraqi units in training will be ready to operate on their own by October, Rodriguez said. Iraqi soldiers are working with multinational forces in counterinsurgency operations every day, and their presence is helping to win over the local population, he noted.

"Iraqi soldiers are increasingly seen by their citizens as a source of pride and confidence," he said. "That pride and confidence has increased the amount of information from Iraqi citizens."

Every month, about 400 Iraqis complete the eight-week police training program, despite targeted attacks by insurgents on police and police facilities, Rodriguez said.

"They are defiantly standing up to the terrorists," he said.

The northwest region of Iraq has seen a slight decrease in the number of insurgents over the past month, and the majority of terrorists involved in suicide bombings are foreign fighters, Rodriguez said. Multinational Force Northwest has several operations ongoing to stem the flow of foreign fighters into the area, he said. Iraqi and coalition forces are working together on the western border to stop foreign fighters from crossing into Iraq, and increased security standards at the only official crossing point in the region has decreased traffic by 45 percent in the last month, he said.

Defeating the insurgency is going to take a joint effort from Iraqi and coalition forces, Rodriguez said, and progress is being made every day. There will be hardships ahead, but he said he is confident that victory will be achieved.

"We're going to win this fight," he said. "We're going to help the Iraqis win the struggle for freedom."

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