The United Nations envoy to Iraq has congratulated the Iraqi people on Thursday's election for a new parliament, saying turnout appears to have been strong among all ethnic and religious groups. Special Representative Ashraf Qazi said on Friday that Iraq's electoral commission conducted the vote according to international standards for a fair, free and transparent vote.
He added that there have been some complaints that will be investigated. Meanwhile, the top U.S. general in Iraq, General George Casey, said he will be making recommendations in the coming weeks on U.S. troop levels there. He told reporters that because of election-related security concerns, there are about 150-thousand American forces now in Iraq. But General Casey said that number should drop to the baseline of about 138-thousand by early February.