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Iraqis rejecting violence, says US army general

By Riyasbabu / 21 October 2007

DUBAI — There are clear signs that Iraqis have started rejecting extremism and violence, even as Al Qaeda remains the “biggest threat” in the war-torn country, a top US military general said here yesterday.

Addressing the media in Dubai yesterday General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General of the US-led Multi-National Force in Iraq, said there has been a significant decline in extremists attack in recent months, especially from Al Qaeda operatives as compared to previous years.

General Patraeus added, Iran-backed extremists’ attacks inside Iraq have also declined significantly in the past months, signalling an improvement in the diplomatic efforts between Teheran and Iraqi authorities to try and end terrorist extremism and sectarian violence.

Commenting on terrorist attacks within Iraq, Genera Petraeus said US-led multi-national forces and Iraqi security officials have managed to control the activities of Al Qaeda and other militant groups. “Iam not claiming that security in Iraq is good. But the situation is better than it has been in the past. This is the time to rebuild basic services and improve living standards.”

Responding to a Khaleej Times question, General Petraeus disclosed new restrictions will come into effect soon for private security companies operating in Iraq. “We are reviewing the situation and a decision to streamline the operations of private security companies in Iraq is expected.”

“The operation of private companies in Iraq is legally valid. However, following recent shootout incidents involving private security forces, we decided to review the situation,” he added.

Also, he emphasised, Iraq needs to recruit and train a good police force to ensure that the security situation within the country improves effectively.

“The US does not have any intention of staying in Iraq forever. When Iraqi security forces are capable of dealing with the situation, we will withdraw our forces. We have already decided to withdraw five brigades each consisting 3,500 army personnel,” General Petraeus said.
 
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