U.S. Officer Sees ‘Very Positive Progress’ In Baghdad
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 Iraqi- and coalition-conducted anti-insurgent operations in Baghdad in recent weeks are achieving results, a senior U.S. military officer told reporters in the Iraqi capital today.
“We’re seeing progress toward reducing the number of kidnappings, murders and sectarian violence in areas in which we’re operating,” Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, said at a news briefing.
Insurgent attacks within Baghdad province averaged about 23 per day during the past week, Caldwell said. He noted that Baghdad’s average daily murder rate dropped 46 percent from July to August.
“And, if you look to just the past few weeks, from the 7th through the 25th of August,” he said, “the murder rate has dropped 50 percent over the daily rate for July.”
Vehicle-bomb attacks also have decreased in recent weeks, up until the renewed enemy improvised-explosive-device attacks that occurred today and over the past weekend, Caldwell said.
“The insurgents and terrorists are punching back,” Caldwell acknowledged. They want to negate recent Iraqi security successes in Baghdad, he said, and divert media attention from those victories.
Iraqi and U.S. security forces began a stepped-up security campaign across Baghdad Aug. 8 to curtail deadly sectarian violence that had plagued the Iraqi capital city. As of yesterday, Caldwell said, Iraqi troops, with U.S. forces supporting them, had cleared more than 30,000 buildings, found 19 caches, seized more than 700 weapons and detained 70 suspects.
Iraqi and U.S. forces have achieved “very positive progress” against insurgents operating in Baghdad, Caldwell said. Yet, he acknowledged that the insurgents are still active in some city neighborhoods.
“We have reduced the violence, and we’re working to set the conditions so the Iraqi leadership and local citizens can revitalize those communities,” he said. “But, it’s just not the statistics that show progress. We’re actually seeing progress out there.”