Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Sign of Hope September 30th 2007

US toll in Iraq at low ebb as Ramadan attacks decline

From AFP:

US military deaths in Iraq stood at a 14-month low on Sunday and Ramadan attacks were sharply down on last year, US commanders said, while announcing that at least 20 insurgents had been killed.

The military said the suspected Al-Qaeda militants were killed by US aircraft as they headed into a palm grove northwest of Baghdad on Saturday after opening fire on an air patrol with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms.

As September drew to a close, US military losses for the month stood at 71, the lowest monthly figure since July last year, according to an AFP tally based on Pentagon figures.

The figure marks the fourth consecutive drop in the monthly death toll following a high of 121 in May.

US commanders said this was largely thanks to the "surge" strategy which saw an extra 28,500 US personnel deployed from mid-February, mainly in Baghdad and the neighbouring province of Anbar to the west.

"The trend is certainly in the right direction," US military spokesman Rear Admiral Mark Fox told a press conference in Baghdad.

"The surge unquestionably is what has been the catalyst that has created the opportunity to have more forces operating in more places at the same time and to deny Al-Qaeda and the extremists safe haven and to take away sanctuaries."

The commander on the ground in Al-Anbar province, the big success story as far as the military is concerned thanks to an anti-Al-Qaeda partnership with Sunni sheikhs, said things were even better in his zone during Ramadan.

Brigadier General Mark Gurganus reported a 38 percent drop in incidents across Iraq during the first fortnight of Ramadan compared to the same period last year.

In Anbar, there had been roughly 90 incidents during each of the first two weeks of the Muslim holy month this year compared to 415 during one week alone in 2006.


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