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Iraq Attacks Lowest Since March 2004, Officials Say

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2005 – The number of terrorist incidents in Iraq have dropped to the lowest level since March 2004, defense officials said.

There are between 40 and 60 incidents each day in the country, they said, sharply down from the terrorist effort in the week of the Iraqi elections in January.

Even this doesn't tell the whole story. Of those incidents, roughly half have no effect. This means terrorists launch an attack, but no lives are lost, nor is any property damaged.

But "let's not downplay this," said a senior defense official. "Some of the attacks are horrendous, like the attack on the mosque in Hillah that killed more than 100 Iraqis."

Such terror attacks - directed solely against innocent Iraqi men, women and children -- are causing many Iraqis who would not normally care to come out against the terrorists. In contrast to the terrorism, average Iraqis see the security effort as heroic.

But the key event was the elections. The Iraqi people - battered by Saddam Hussein for a generation - stood up and voted. A people arose from the spiritual ashes of the Hussein regime and took a huge step toward getting back their self-respect.

In Mosul, a city with the most terror attacks in the country, the people have turned against the insurgents. Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers spoke about Mosul's citizens and their stand against terror during a visit to Arizona March 29. He said that before elections, the Iraqi Joint Coordination Center had one hotline for Iraqis to use to call in a report problems. "And it wasn't used all that much," the chairman said.

Today, the JCC has five hotlines and they need more. Mosulis are taking an active role against the terrorists.

The coalition and Iraqi security forces are working to apply pressure against insurgents all over the country. In the past, the coalition would confront insurgents in one place and the insurgents would simply move to another area. But with more Iraqi forces available for use, commanders are able to keep the pressure against insurgents up at all parts of the country.

"This will only increase as the number of Iraqi forces increase," said coalition officials in Baghdad. "But we have to remember, the enemy will flow to the weakest area."

It is not just force that pays dividends for coalition and Iraqi forces. The coalition has hired Iraqis to rebuild the neglected infrastructure. In Sadr City, many residents are getting dependable electricity, clear water, sewers and garbage disposal for the first time in their lives. That has cut the number of incidents in the area substantially, officials said.

The same scenario is playing out in other areas of Iraq, such as Fallujah and Mosul and Samarra with, officials hope, the same results.

Officials in the Pentagon and in Baghdad caution that the number of attacks ebbs and flows and the number may increase. They also caution that the Iraqi National Assembly has to name a president, deputy presidents and prime minister and begin the serious work of governing the country and writing a new constitution soon.

But in the meantime, all the trend lines in Iraq are rising, with the exception of attacks.

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