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US General:  Insurgents Can No Longer Mount Sustained Operations in Baghdad

William Webster
The U.S. general who commands coalition forces in Baghdad says Iraqi and foreign troops have crippled the insurgency in recent months, and that it can no longer mount long-term, intense operations in the city.

Speaking from Baghdad, Major General William Webster said there may still be spikes in operations by insurgent groups, but their overall capability in the city is down significantly.

"The ability of these insurgents to conduct sustained, high-intensity operations, as they did last year, we've mostly eliminated that," said General Webster.

The general says the change can be mainly credited to Iraqi forces and the citizens of Baghdad.

"We attribute our success to having trained and experienced Iraqi security forces patrolling the streets, talking to the Iraqi people gathering greater intelligence," he added. "People are gaining more confidence in their security forces here in Baghdad, and they're providing them lots of information."

General Webster says the crackdown in Baghdad, known as Operation Lightning, which is now concluding, caused an overall reduction in the number of attacks in Baghdad. In particular, he says the most devastating insurgent attacks, car bombings, dropped from an average of between 14 and 21 per week to an average of seven or eight per week. He says coalition forces have gotten better at finding insurgent bomb factories, and have also deployed some technological solutions that he cannot specify.

He says Operation Lightning captured more than 3,000 insurgents, including 51 foreign fighters from Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Sudan. The general says coalition and Iraqi troops also found 70 caches of bomb making material, mortar shells and anti-aircraft weapons.

"I don't think we can say this is a permanent solution. But I would say, in the next couple of months, we will not see sustained, long, bloody months," noted General Webster.

The coalition commander in Baghdad says the situation in the rest of the country has not improved as rapidly, because the capital has more Iraqi forces available at a higher level of training. Nationwide, June was one of the deadliest months for U.S. forces in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.