By Gerry J. Gilmore
WASHINGTON, July 20, 2006 – Iraqi and coalition security forces will redouble efforts to stem a recent spate of bombings, murders and kidnappings conducted in and around Baghdad, a senior U.S. military officer said today. "We will do whatever it takes to bring down the level of violence in Baghdad," Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV told reporters during a Baghdad news briefing.
Caldwell, a spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, quoted from a joint statement issued yesterday by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq, addressing the recent violence in Baghdad and its surrounding environs: "'We condemn in the strongest possible language the recent attacks by terrorists and death squads against innocent Iraqi civilians in Kufa and Mahmudiyah,'" Caldwell read.
He quoted the two leaders as saying coalition officials will work with the Iraqi government and security forces "to treat the death squads as the same critical threat to Iraqi security as the terrorists who target Iraqi civilians," Caldwell continued. Iraqi and coalition officials recognize that Baghdad is at the epicenter of insurgent efforts to destabilize the country, Caldwell said.
"Clearly, the death squad elements, the terrorist elements know that Baghdad is a must-win for them," Caldwell said. Iraqi security forces deployed across Baghdad have hampered the movements of terrorists and other criminal elements and foiled a number of kidnap attempts, Caldwell said.
The Iraqi government and coalition advisers are reviewing and making adjustments to Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's month-old security plan for Baghdad, Caldwell said. About 51,000 Iraq soldiers, police and U.S. troops are involved in this effort, he said. The plan is intended to reduce murders, kidnappings and assassinations within the city, he said, noting the plan will be implemented over several months.
He said terrorists will try to stop the mission from succeeding. "If it means targeting innocent Iraqi civilians, conducting sensational attacks against them, that's exactly what they will do," Caldwell said.