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Iraqis Fed Up With Insurgency, General Says

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 9, 2006 – The people of Iraq are rising up against an insurgency bent on derailing democracy in the country, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman said today.

"The people of Iraq are uniting against the insurgency," Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said during a news conference from Baghdad. "Out in al Anbar, the terrorists and foreign fighters have become the enemy to the people."

People in that province have collectively turned against Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his network, Lynch said. Seven of Zarqawi's leaders have been killed in Anbar since September, and insurgent access to Ramadi has been physically blocked, he added.

Another way Iraqi citizens, as a whole, are uniting against the insurgency is by giving coalition members and Iraqi security forces "actionable tips." Lynch described actionable tips as those that provide information that coalition and Iraqi forces can do something with. Of all calls to the national tip line, 98 percent are actionable, he said.

"Based on these kinds of tips, since November, we have been able to kill or capture 41 bomb makers," Lynch said. These kinds of tips also have led to the discovery of more than 1,500 weapons caches across Iraq.

Iraqis are fed up with Zarqawi and his network's attempts to discredit the Iraqi government and disrupt the political process, Lynch said. "He's trying to tear Iraq apart at the seams to keep it from unifying as a nation," he said. "He's trying to stop the democratic process, but he can't."

Insurgents' attempts come at great cost to Iraqi civilians. Of 290 casualties in Iraq since Feb. 25, 239 were Iraqi civilians, Lynch said. Those casualties were the result of 40 car bombs that detonated while Iraqis were in line at gas stations or on their way to the market or school, Lynch said.

There were 555 attacks against coalition members, Iraqi security forces and civilians last week, he said. Yesterday alone, there were 80, he said.

In general, attacks were up in Anbar last week, but were isolated around Ramadi and Fallujah, he said. The north saw a drop in attacks against civilians, though there has been an increase in direct-fire attacks against Iraqi security forces, Lynch said.

Southern Iraq and Baghdad also have seen a reduction in attacks. In Baghdad, however, they have resulted in a greater number of casualties, Lynch said. He predicts more attacks as the Iraqi government prepares to seat its council of representatives March 12. "Remember, democracy equals failure for the insurgency," he said. "There's going to be more attacks to discredit the Iraqi government and derail the democratic process."

Lynch said he expects the government to react to any future attacks as it did to the Feb. 22 bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra -- as a capable Iraqi government directing a capable Iraqi security force that now numbers 240,000. This, he said he believes, will prevent the enemy from achieving its goals.

Those 240,000 Iraqi security forces participated in 461 operations across Iraq last week, Lynch said. Of those, Iraqi forces independently planned, resourced and executed 34 percent.

Lynch also updated numbers related to the sectarian violence that began with the Golden Mosque bombing. "As of today, we can confirm 452 civilian deaths since the 22nd of February," he said, adding that the number could be greater, and deaths directly attributable to sectarian violence were unclear.

Of 81 reported mosque attacks, it was confirmed that 23 sustained significant damage, and of those, eight were totally destroyed, Lynch said. The coalition confirmed 17 had light damage, and 41 had no damage. He also confirmed that there were 83 demonstrations since Feb. 22, with only five resulting in any acts of violence.

As the insurgency tries to re-establish an Islamic state in Iraq, Lynch said, the coalition is keeping a close eye on two of Iraq's neighbors. "We are concerned about two specific neighbors that seem to be particularly unhelpful, Syria and Iran," he said. "There are clear indications that Iran is supporting the insurgency in Iraq."

Despite this, Lynch noted Iraq is at peace with its neighbors. It is an ally on the war on terrorism, has a representative government that can respect human rights of its citizens, and has a security force capable of maintaining domestic order and denying the country as a safe haven for terrorists, he said.

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