The deputy commander of coalition forces in Iraq says it will not be easy to turn around the security situation in Baghdad. But British Lieutenant General Graeme Lamb says it can be done with the 20-thousand more U.S. troops being sent by President Bush and, what the general called, a "huge" commitment by Iraq's government and military.
Meanwhile, the outgoing U.S. military commander in Iraq said he thinks it will be July or August before a new Iraqi-U.S. security plan will make Baghdad safe. General George Casey said if conditions allow, the U.S. reinforcements being sent to Iraq could then start to return home by late summer. In other news, Iraqi and U.S. forces detained a top aide to Moqtada al-Sadr in a raid in eastern Baghdad. Al-Sadr's office said the man arrested is its media director, Sheik Abdul Hadi al-Darraji.
A U.S. military statement did not identify the detainee, but described him as a leader of an illegal armed group involved in the kidnapping, torture and murder of Iraqi civilians. Meanwhile, General Lamb said he is optimistic the new security plan will work because of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's pledge to crack down on all trouble makers, without regard to their political or sectarian affiliations. He said Mr. Maliki has already allowed the arrest of members of the Mahdi Army of his political ally, Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Speaking Friday from Baghdad to reporters at the Pentagon, General Lambe also said British forces will remain in Iraq through this year and into 2007 if asked.