Thursday, September 20, 2007

Iraq violence lowest since '06 mosque attack

Iraq violence lowest since '06 mosque attack
By Paul Tait, Sep 20, Reuters (Excerpt)

"Violence in Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since before a 2006 mosque attack which unleashed the deadliest phase of the Iraq war, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said on Thursday.

Lieutenant-General Raymond Odierno said attacks in Baghdad had also fallen by half since January, just before Washington began pouring 30,000 extra troops into Iraq to try to drag the nation back from the brink of sectarian civil war.

"There are still way too many civilian casualties inside of Baghdad and Iraq," Odierno said, after telling a news conference the number of sectarian killings in the capital had fallen from an average of about 32 a day to 12 a day this year.

U.S. forces launched a crackdown in Baghdad in February that spread to other provinces, targeting Sunni Islamist al Qaeda and other Sunni Arab insurgents as well as Shi'ite militias.

"Al Qaeda in Iraq is increasingly being pushed out of Baghdad and the surrounding areas. They are now seeking refuge elsewhere in the country and even fleeing Iraq," Odierno said.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki this month said his government had averted civil war and that levels of violence in Baghdad and surrounding areas had fallen 75 percent this year."


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