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Progress Spreads in Iraq on Many Fronts, Official Says

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2005 – Progress in Iraq continues, and this includes the work extension granted earlier this week to draft the country's new constitution, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman said today.

"They have made substantial progress," Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said about the Iraqis during a Baghdad briefing today, "but needed more time to put together a document that will be the foundation of a free and democratic Iraq for years to come."

"As Iraq's President (Jalal) Talibani said after the vote to extend the work on the constitution, 'We should not be hasty regarding the issues and the constitution should not be born crippled,'" Lynch noted.

The original deadline for the constitution was Aug. 15. Iraqi lawmakers, however, voted on the extension right before the deadline. "We are confident that the Iraqi people will complete this process and continue on the path toward elections for a permanent government at the end of this year," Lynch said.

He pointed out that coalition forces made gains when they shut down a chemical production facility and storage site in Mosul on Aug. 9. Forces acted on information obtained during interrogation of a detainee that insurgents were producing two chemical agents that, when combined, created lethal gas.

The facilities actually contained many different chemicals still being analyzed.

Security operations this week proved fruitful as well.

"This week, 100 percent of the brigade level operations by coalition forces were conducted jointly with the Iraq security forces," Lynch said. "We continue to be impressed by the dedication and courage of these forces."

More than 180,000 trained and equipped Iraqi security force members are duty across Iraq, and "they are making a difference," he said.

Those combined operations detained more than 129 insurgents, including foreign fighters and multiple weapons caches across Iraq.

Reconstruction is seeing some "amazing" progress, Lynch pointed out.

"Last November, there were significant military operations in (Fallujah)," he said. "By this November we will have completed 438 projects totaling $71.3 million and will continue the progress with an additional 19 projects worth over $65 million after the elections."

The people of Fallujah, he said, have reliable access to electricity and water, and can send their children to one of the 49 schools now open. Fallujans also will soon have their own TV and radio station.

Lynch also announced a new link, "This Week in Iraq," on the Multinational Force Iraq Web site that will highlight progress being made. "That link will give audiences worldwide simple access to the amazing number of good news stories across Iraq," he said.

Continued insurgent actions, such as the bombing attacks in Baghdad Aug. 17 that killed dozens of civilians, Lynch explained, are just proof of the insurgents' complete lack of regard for human life.

"We would like to extend our condolences to the families of the innocent Iraqi civilians the that were murdered during the horrific attacks here in Baghdad yesterday," Lynch said. "Those attacks show the depths (to which) the terrorists will stoop to target the innocent civilian population.

"They not only used car bombs to kill innocent civilians at bus stops and taxi stands, but also to kill those Iraqis who were rendering medical care to the injured."

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