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U.S. Must be Patient as Operations in Baghdad Move Forward

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2007 – Although recent operations to secure Baghdad are off to a good start, Americans must be patient in expecting progress, a senior coalition spokesman said in Baghdad today.

It will take several months before all additional coalition forces arrive in the Iraqi capital, Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said.

Operation Enforcing the Law will take time to implement, Caldwell said during a news conference with Iraqi Brig. Gen. Kassim Atta al-Moussawi, an Iraqi military spokesman. “Two of the five additional United States brigades have arrived and are currently operating inside Baghdad,” Caldwell said. “The third is beginning to arrive in Kuwait at this time.”

He added that it will be late May before all the additional forces arrive and begin operating in Baghdad and Anbar province.

Between 5,000 and 7,000 U.S. troops will support the original surge of 21,500 troops, which President Bush called for in January. “These will be units such as logistical support, military police and aviation assets so we can increase the mobility of both the Iraqi security forces and coalition forces,” Caldwell said.

Ha also announced that the Caucasus nation of Georgia will triple its contribution to the coalition to more than 2,000 soldiers.

All of this helps provide the security needed for the Iraqis to develop political solutions, Caldwell said. “The military solution can effect the environment in which these political solutions are conducted,” he said.

Early markers show that sectarian violence is down in Baghdad, and that families who left are returning in some neighborhoods, Kassim said. He added that Iraqi forces will continue to operate in support of Baghdad security operations.

Iraqi and coalition forces will operate in all areas and against all anti-Iraqi forces “without exceptions,” Kassim said.

Despite the signs of hope, groups like al Qaeda in Iraq continue to launch attacks against the innocent in order to provoke sectarian fighting, Caldwell said. The terrorist group wants to “create instability and sow division among the Iraqi people,” he said.

The general noted that the combined forces have a tough job because terrorists can strike where they choose, Iraqi and coalition forces have to protect all Iraqis everywhere.

The attack on the Habbaniyah mosque in February proves “that al Qaeda does not represent any sectarian group, but is fully prepared to murder scores of Sunni Arabs in an attempt to prevent Iraqis from determining their own future,” Caldwell said.

Since February, Iraqi and coalition forces have conducted more than 200 joint operations against al Qaeda objectives, resulting in the deaths of more than 100 terrorists and the detention of more than 400 others. More importantly, Caldwell said, more tips are coming in from Iraqis, who are increasingly standing up to these terrorist forces.

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