Pentagon reports sharp drop in violence in Iraq

June 24th, 2008 - 7:10 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 24 (DPA) The Pentagon reported Monday that violence in Iraq has dropped by 40 to 80 percent under the increased presence of US troops and better coordination with the Iraqi military. The quarterly report, required by Congress, showed the decrease in violence across all major indicators - including measures such as civilian deaths, military casualties and roadside attacks - but also warned that Iraq remains fragile and that the trend is reversible.

“Coalition and Iraqi forces’ operations against Al Qaeda in Iraq have degraded its ability to attack and terrorize the population,” the report said.

US President George W Bush ordered the surge of US forces in January 2007, and the number peaked earlier this year, with the US presence built up to more than 160,000 troops.

Some of those troops have begun to come home as the surge is set to end in July, and US commanders will evaluate the situation in September to determine if more soldiers can leave.

The Pentagon also touted the success of Iraqi security forces in fighting Shiite militias, while local communities are providing security against other militants or terrorists.

“Overall, the communal struggle for power and resources is becoming less violent. Many Iraqis are now settling their differences through debate and the political process, rather than open conflict,” the report said.

The report covers the three-month period from March through May. The report is good news for Bush, who has urged US voters and Congress to be patient. It could also benefit presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, who has backed Bush’s troop surge.

The Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, has said he will set a timeframe for withdrawing troops and will minimize the US role in the unpopular war.

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