A US military commander in Baghdad says significant progress is being made in reducing attacks against security forces and civilians in the Iraqi capital since a large-scale operation was launched several weeks ago. Army Colonel Robert Scurlock made the remarks during a teleconference from Baghdad .
Colonel Scurlock says his soldiers arrived in Baghdad from Kuwait in late July to join with Iraqi police and army forces as part of Operation Forward Together. That action was ordered by Iraq's new prime minister after a spike in sectarian violence left thousands of people dead in the worst bloodshed since the US.-led invasion in 2003. Scurlock says his troops from the First Armored Division have been sweeping through neighborhoods in a 300-square kilometer section of western Baghdad that is home to more than one-million Iraqis. Colonel Scurlock says since the operation began, violent attacks on civilians, Iraqi security forces and coalition troops have dropped more than 40-percent across Baghdad.
Colonel Scurlock says in his section of Baghdad about 35-hundred coalition forces have joined five-thousand Iraqi soldiers to track down insurgents responsible for the violence. He says while significant progress is being made, there are still major threats from terrorists aligned with al-Qaida in Iraq, Sunni "rejectionist" groups, Shi'ite death squads and criminals.
Colonel Scurlock says in those neighborhoods where his troops are patrolling, Iraqi citizens are gaining more confidence in the police and there is a growing trust that they can provide security. The colonel says a continuing problem is that in some cases insurgent groups have infiltrated the local police, but he says the Iraqi government is working actively to root out internal corruption within the ranks of its security