By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
May 21, 2007 – The top military commander in Iraq has urged people there to support the country and government and reject violence and sectarianism. "This is a pivotal time, and inaction may be tantamount to failure," Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, wrote in a letter dated May 16.
In the open letter to the Iraqi people, Petraeus urged the Iraqi people to take "an active role in the rebirth of your nation."
He said that coalition forces, along with Iraqi security forces, are working to rid the country of extremists of all sects. The letter went out to all television, radio and print outlets in the country, officials said.
The letter comes as the U.S. military surge into Iraq continues. By the beginning of June, the additional 21,500 U.S. combat personnel in five brigade combat teams will be in place. The coalition forces work closely with more than 348,000 trained and equipped members of the Iraqi security forces.
But even with this force, the Iraqi government and the coalition need the help of the people. "We need your help if we are going to quell the violence," Petraeus said. "Deny the enemy shelter; report any information you may have regarding his whereabouts; and be proud of and support your nation's security forces."
He asked the Iraqi people to understand that restrictions on movement are designed to make neighborhoods safer. "As security improves, the barriers will come down as quickly as they went up, and you will be able to return to a more normal way of life," he wrote.
Petraeus asked Iraqis to not only reject violence, "but to embrace reconciliation" for the future. He said Iraq's future does not include extremists, and he called on all Iraqis to live together peacefully.
"The coalition can help you realize this objective," he said. "In the end, however, success depends on you."
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