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Iraqis Fighting Terrorists, Cooperating With Coalition

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2006 – Iraqi citizens are tired of insurgents and their violent tactics and are turning against them, providing tips to coalition and Iraqi security forces and, in some cases, taking action themselves, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said today.

In January 2006, Iraqi civilians provided more than 1,300 tips to coalition and Iraqi security forces, Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman said at a news briefing. That is a huge improvement from the 47 tips received in January 2005, Lynch said.

Of all the valid calls received by the Ministry of Interior's national tips hotline, 98 percent provided actionable intelligence, Lynch said. Most calls are about terrorist activity, he said, but calls also come in about kidnapping, murder and other criminal activity.

"This is employing the people of Iraq, who are tired of the insurgency, to help us and the Iraqi security forces fight the insurgents," Lynch said.

Iraqis in certain areas of the country are taking their own action against insurgents, Lynch said. Many times these citizens are urged by their local tribal leaders to rid the area of the insurgent influence, he explained. In Fallujah and Ramadi, citizens have established checkpoints to keep insurgents out and six al Qaeda leaders have been killed in the area since September, he said.

Insurgents make up only a miniscule percentage of the population of Iraq, so the coalition is working with the rest of the Iraqis to promote the cause of democracy, Lynch said.

"Everybody else just wants an environment where they can get up, send their children to school, go to work, and have a normal existence," he said. "We are actively reaching out, with all the coalition governments, to the people of Iraq, because we want the people of Iraq to embrace the democratic process. We want them to become part of the solution, not part of the problem."

Insurgents continue to target Iraqi security forces, Lynch said.

"Based on the increased capability of the Iraqi security forces, they have become an increased threat to the enemy -- to the insurgents. So they are now targeting members of the Iraqi security forces in greater numbers than we've seen in the past," he said.

Two divisions, eight brigades and 37 battalions of the Iraqi army now control battlespace and lead operations, Lynch said. In January, Iraqi security forces planned and executed 27 percent of the total operations across Iraq, and more than 70 percent of operations involved Iraqis, he said. The Iraqi army recently planned and executed its first nighttime air-assault operation, resulting in the capture of 19 terrorists who were being trained to conduct attacks on pilgrims participating in the Shiite Muslim holiday of Ashura, he said.

The Iraqi army is not at a point where most of their forces can operate completely independently, Lynch said, but they are gaining capabilities and taking the lead. The Iraqis still need logistical, artillery, close-air and airlift support from the coalition, but the important thing to note is how much of the land they are controlling, he said.

"It's exciting to me that we've reached the point where that much of Iraq is controlled by the people of Iraq," he said.

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