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Iraq Government Says Need for US Troops Will Decrease


The government of Iraq says the need for U.S. combat troops in the country will decrease in the near future and it welcomed Monday's congressional testimony by the U.S. commander in Iraq and the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. VOA's Jim Randle reports from Baghdad.

Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie said Iraqi forces are getting stronger and the need for U.S. troops in combat operations will decline soon.

"We anticipate in the near term a relaxation of the requirements for coalition forces in direct combat operations," Rubaie said.

The minister spoke in Baghdad one day after the long-anticipated report by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker to the U.S. Congress. Petraeus said Iraq is difficult and frustrating, but in time, the United States can meet its objectives. He urged members of Congress who want to quickly withdraw substantial numbers of troops to be patient and give him and Iraq more time.

But Petraeus indicated that some American troops could head home soon.

Iraq's national security advisor was grateful for the comments.

"The government of Iraq welcomes the assessments of the situation in Iraq by Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus," Rubaie said.

Rubaie said the Iraqi military and police forces are now "formidable" and have taken over security from coalition forces in seven of Iraq's 18 provinces.

"We now have almost 500,000 trained soldiers and police in operations against the terrorists," Rubaie said.

But Rubaie said Iraq will continue to need the support of the coalition for "some time" to train its forces and to deal with what he called a cunning, adaptive, and savage enemy.

Shortly after Rubaie spoke, the U.S. military announced that coalition forces had killed fifteen terrorists in two raids in the capital, Baghdad.

The U.S. military said another 13 terrorists were detained during the operations.

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