US general running Baghdad says more Iraqi troops needed to combat militias

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 20 September 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq_The commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad said Wednesday he was
pushing Iraqi leaders to start doing more about the sectarian militias
responsible for killing thousands of people _ most of them in the capital.

Maj. Gen. James Thurman told The Associated Press that more Iraqi troops
were needed to combat what militias, which he described as the biggest
threat to the country's future.

"Militias are holding the rule of law in contempt. We're pushing this
government to get a policy as to how they're going to deal with it so their
own people know how to deal with the militias," Thurman said.

Despite the recent addition of one of the best-equipped U.S. brigades to the
capital, Thurman said he asked that more Iraqi troops be stationed in
Baghdad. Presently two Iraqi divisions are based in the capital, although
U.S. trainers have said both are not staffed to capacity.

"I would like to see more Iraqi forces. We are pushing that very hard," said
Thurman, commander of Multinational Division Baghdad, as he visited with
Iraqi soldiers leading searches through homes in the Mansour neighborhood of
the capital.

Thurman added that U.S. troop levels in Baghdad, which were recently
increased by at least 3,000 soldiers, would "depend on how we progress with
Iraqi security forces."

Though Iraqi troop are now officially in charge of security for two-thirds
of Baghdad, U.S. forces have led the vast majority of recent operations in
the capital. In many areas U.S. soldiers are trying to calm neighborhoods
where sectarian violence has flared under Iraqi military leadership.

Thurman said attacks in Baghdad have recently shifted from civilian targets
back to U.S. and Iraqi troops.

"What we've seen over the last few weeks is attacks against people are down.
The attacks are against Iraqi security forces and the coalition," said
Thurman. "That should tell you something. Things are getting better. We're
being more effective with security."

But Thurman said militias, which he called the biggest threat to Baghdad,
remain strong in many areas of this city of 6.5 million people.