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Coalition Commander Calls Iraq Attacks 'Anomaly'


The coalition commander in Iraq calls this week's series of insurgent attacks in the country "an anomaly." And his top general in western Iraq, where one particularly deadly attack happened on Thursday, does not see this week's attacks as part of any new trend.

The coalition commander, General George Casey, told the Cable News Network, violence in Iraq spikes periodically, but that it should not distract attention from the progress made in the last year in developing Iraq's security forces and political system. General Casey said foreign insurgents and their Iraqi supporters are trying to foment civil war, but he does not believe they will succeed.

Also on Friday, the commander of coalition forces in western Iraq said citizens in Ramadi blame foreign al-Qaida terrorists for the attack Thursday that killed at least 67 people at a police recruiting center in the town.

In an interview via satellite with reporters at the Pentagon, General Stephen Johnson said he has no evidence to indicate who planned the attack, but he said it fits the pattern of al-Qaida suicide operations. There have been several such attacks on recruiting centers.

General Johnson says violence in western Iraq surges and recedes on a regular basis, but he sees evidence that the recent election will help turn the tide of public opinion toward support for the new Iraqi government, and away from support for the insurgents.

"We are hearing an increasingly larger number of moderate voices, who want to give the political opportunities, the political process, a chance," he said.

Still, General Johnson says the insurgency will continue, until Iraq's new government is formed and has a chance to demonstrate that it can govern.

The general also said his forces in western Iraq are part of the new effort to focus on the development and deployment of Iraqi police forces. He said the increasing number of Iraqi army troops in the area are establishing basic security, and creating the conditions in which newly formed police units can begin to operate.

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