Recent Attacks in Response to U.S. Pressure, Spokesman Says
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2005 Increased U.S. and coalition operations throughout the Euphrates River Valley have forced insurgents to switch tactics in an attempt to cause damage, a coalition spokesman in Baghdad, Iraq, said today.
The two major attacks that killed 20 Marines this week in Haditha are evidence of these shifting tactics, Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Alston said in a press briefing. One of the attacks involved small-arms fire, and the other used an exceptionally large improvised explosive device. The IED may have been an "explosively formed projectile," which is a more sophisticated explosive used to defeat armored vehicles, he said.
The departure from traditional IEDs is the terrorists' response to the lack of effect they have had on coalition forces recently, Alston said. Another response the terrorists have made is to target Iraqi security forces, who are less able to protect themselves, and Iraqi civilians, who have no means of protection, he added.
As political progress continues in Iraq, terrorists are becoming more anxious to cause damage and to derail the formation of a democracy, Alston said.
"Success of democracy in Iraq is failure to the terrorists," he said. "They will try hard to muster their forces to surge as we continue to walk toward the constitution referendum." Iraqi officials are to submit a draft constitution by Aug. 15, and the Iraqi people are to vote on the constitution by referendum by Oct. 15. Alston said this process is on track.
The area around Haditha has become a hot spot for terrorist activity because of the easy accessibility to the area and because stepped-up coalition operations have made it difficult for terrorists to leave, Alston said. Operations are continuing there as planned to deal with this density of insurgents, he explained.
The tempo of suicide bombs and IEDs has decreased, due largely to coalition efforts at the Syria-Iraq border, Alston said, adding that loyalty to the insurgents' cause is waning.
"This is not an expanding insurgency," he said. "What we're seeing is probably the opposite."
The presence of Iraqi and coalition forces in the community gives Iraqis a comfort level, Alston said, because they provide relief efforts. This, in turn, makes the Iraqis more willing to assist in exposing and capturing terrorists, he said.
Progress in Iraq continues, with the training and growing of Iraqi security forces, the formation of the constitution and rebuilding efforts, Alston said. About 2,000 police officers and 250 border guards completed training this week, and 100 Iraqi soldiers reported for a three-month counterterrorism training program in Jordan, he said.
Several large construction projects, including a $1.5 million electrical project in the Kirkuk province, were finished this week, Alston said. This new system will provide power to more than 650 homes and to streetlights in the neighborhoods, he explained.
Despite insurgent activity, Alston said, Iraq is on its way to becoming a democracy.