Iraq Violence Continues to Ebb as Security Improves, General Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 25, 2009 The amount of insurgent- and crime-related violence in Iraq continues to drop as security improves, a senior U.S. military officer told reporters at a Baghdad news conference today.
“Some significant improvement has taken place across the board” with regard to security operations and levels of violence in Iraq, said Army Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins, director for strategic effects at Multinational Force Iraq.
For example, insurgent-committed attacks in Iraq have decreased to their lowest level since August 2003, Perkins said, noting that represents a more than 90-percent decrease since June 2007.
Last year, Perkins said, Iraq averaged about 130 attacks per day. Now officials are seeing about 10 attacks per day, he said.
At the height of Iraq violence a few years ago, Perkins said, there were about 1,250 attacks weekly. Now, often there are fewer than a hundred attacks recorded each week in Iraq.
“In the last two weeks, we’ve had no ethno-sectarian attacks reported in Iraq,” Perkins said. Those types of attacks, he said, are often the most deadly and tend to lead to spiraling, out-of-control violence.
“So, it is very good news that the ethno-sectarian violence is at such a low level,” Perkins said.
Iraqi security force and civilian deaths have drastically declined, Perkins said, while U.S. combat deaths in Iraq have decreased by more than 90 percent over the past two years or so, the lowest level since the war began six years ago.
Perkins noted that 148 U.S. military members were killed in Iraq between January and February 2007.
“However, if you look at January to February of this year, 2009, there were 19 U.S. military killed” in Iraq, Perkins said.
High-profile insurgent attacks, like bombings in urban areas, have declined 67 percent across Iraq since this time last year, Perkins said. And, he said, the time between those attacks has increased.
Last year at this time, Perkins said, high-profile attacks occurred about every 1.9 days. Today, he said, such attacks occur about every 3.8 days.
“It shows the enemy is unable to maintain a high rate of attacks,” Perkins explained. “They don’t have the resources available; they don’t have the personnel available to do that.”
Meanwhile, Perkins said, U.S., coalition and Iraqi security operations continue to make inroads against insurgent and criminal operations.
The success enjoyed by security forces in Iraq is related to their ability “to get at the terrorist networks that facilitate the high-profile attacks,” Perkins said. For example, he said, several key al-Qaida in Iraq leaders have been killed over the past year or so.
Al-Qaida in Iraq Internet propaganda postings that seek recruits and money have greatly declined, Perkins said, as its senior leaders have been eliminated and its operations decrease.
Perkins also noted the elimination of several al-Qaida agents who worked to move terrorists in and out of Iraq.
“The result of these efforts has been a significant decrease in the number of foreign terrorists that come in and out of Iraq,” Perkins said, noting reports that many terrorists in Iraq are seeking to flee the country.
Additionally, U.S., coalition and Iraqi security forces have captured 82 special-groups criminals and terrorists over the past year and shut down their Baghdad-based headquarters, Perkins said.
U.S., coalition and Iraqi security forces have teamed up to significantly downgrade al-Qaida’s leadership, foreign-terrorist operations, terrorist media networks and special groups’ activities, Perkins said.
“We see these trends continuing,” Perkins said, as U.S., coalition and Iraqi security forces continue their strategic partnership.