Ground situation in Iraq improving daily

DUBAI — The situation on the ground in Iraq is improving on a daily basis. That's the view of Captain's Eric Clark and Captain Frank Pascual, both from US Central Command, who talked to Khaleej Times exclusively on Tuesday.

By Peter Donnelly

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Published: Thu 26 Jan 2006, 10:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 6:59 PM

"We are seeing improvement all the time," said Captain Pascual. "The Iraqi people more and more see our presence there as a partnership. We're there to partner the security forces, and help them do their job, but we also work hand in hand with the Iraqi people, and they're beginning to understand that," he added.

However, there was no potential date mentioned for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. "That's condition based," Captain Clark said. "Obviously, we cannot leave the country until the Iraqi Security Forces are capable of handling Al Qaeda. However, they are evolving and becoming more able. Iraqi Security Forces are now completely in control of the forts on the border with Syria," he added.

Both Captain Clark and Captain Pascual emphasised that the US military, presently in Iraq, do not consider themselves to be an occupying force. They also indicated that they understand the situation they find themselves in.

"It's a very sensitive situation regarding how the Iraqi people see us," said Captain Clark. "We're there to help the Iraqi people, and it is important that we continue to do this. We are not an occupying force, and the only way we can prove this is by building a level of trust," he added.

Captain Pascual agreed: "The trust factor is vital because ultimately it is helping to save lives. Iraqis are now approaching us on a daily basis with information which helps combat the insurgency. They now understand we're there to assist them."

Both men were also keen to point out that the recent election had been a success, and democracy will prevail. "78 per cent of the people turned out to vote. That's a huge number," Captain Clark said. "We can set the conditions for democracy to exist, but ultimately it's the Iraqi people who must follow through."

"They have to do it for themselves," added Captain Pascual.

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