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Iraqi Military: No Need for US Troops' Help in Security Mission

The Iraqi military and security forces are saying they have not needed to call upon U.S. troops, since their pullback from Iraqi cities on June 30, and they have also denied U.S. requests to conduct raids.

The Iraqi military is becoming increasingly self-reliant, in the words of its commanders, since the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraqi cities and towns.

Iraq's top army commander in Baghdad, Major-General Abboud Qanbar, says he has not had to call on U.S. forces for support since their withdrawal last month, noting that the "number of U.S. troops inside Baghdad is very small, and all are non-combat forces."

But General Qanbar insists "if terrorists groups do something our forces cannot handle, then we will get help from the Americans."

The Associated Press quotes another Iraqi commander, Colonel Ali Fadhil, as saying Iraqi troops turned down several U.S. requests to move around Baghdad without an escort, and refused permission on one occasion to conduct a raid.

Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman General Abdul Karim Khalaf tells VOA Iraqi forces' biggest need from the United States is training Iraqi troops.

He says that concerning security operations, we do not need assistance, but that we need steady American support in training and logistic help.

In a written statement, U.S. military press spokesman in Baghdad Major Jose Lopez says "close cooperation between Iraqi and U.S. forces continues ... and [the U.S. military] is ready to respond to any Iraqi government request for assistance."

Lopez also underlined that Iraqis have "embraced the fact that Iraqi forces are in the lead, not figuratively, but actually out leading security operations."

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told a press conference Monday "the level of cooperation and collaboration with the Iraqi security forces is going much better than is being portrayed publicly in the media."

Since the U.S. pullback, there have been several bombings in Baghdad and elsewhere across the country.

Bombs exploded in Baghdad and the western city of Ramadi, Tuesday, killing and wounding dozens. Another bomb also reportedly targeted Iraq's Water Resources minister, although his ministry denied he was the target.

Aides to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki indicate he is due to raise the issue of cooperation with the United States in training Iraqi security forces, during a visit to Washington.