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Offensive Against Iraqi Insurgents Dramatically Reduces Attacks on US Soldiers - 2003-11-20

A senior U.S. military commander in Iraq says a new offensive against anti-coalition insurgent forces in and around Baghdad has resulted in a dramatic reduction in attacks on American soldiers.

Brigadier General Martin Dempsey says insurgent attacks on coalition troops are down 70 percent since Operation Iron Hammer began 12 days ago.

Speaking to reporters in Baghdad and at the Pentagon, General Dempsey says he wants to cut the number to zero and demonstrate to anti-coalition forces that they cannot operate with impunity in the Iraqi capital.

"What I want to make sure the enemy knows is that there is no sanctuary in Baghdad," he said.

The last reported U.S. fatality in the Iraqi capital occurred six days ago when a soldier died of wounds received when the convoy in which he was riding struck an improvised explosive device. Two other soldiers were wounded in that attack.

Operation Iron Hammer has seen U.S. forces use attack helicopters and other aircraft in strikes against suspected insurgents and buildings they have allegedly been using.

But General Dempsey rejects suggestions it is just a show of force.

"I want the enemy to know that although I am on his home turf, he is not going to use that to his advantage," said Gen. Dempsey.

The General tells reporters the fight against anti-coalition forces is what he terms a fight for intelligence. He says he has no need of additional soldiers.