By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
Oct. 24, 2007 - The U.S. troop surge in Iraq continues to have positive effects, as violence and casualties are decreasing in many areas of the country, the Joint Staff's director for operational planning said today. In and around Baghdad, terrorist operations are down by 59 percent; operations targeting Iraqi forces are down more than 60 percent; car bombs are down by 65 percent; fatalities due to car bombs are down by 81 percent; casualties due to enemy attacks are down by 77 percent; and the violence during this last Ramadan period was the lowest in three years, Army Maj. Gen. Richard Sherlock told Pentagon reporters.
Also, last week in Anbar province, the coalition had no casualties, which is an important milestone, the general noted.
"Overall casualties in Iraq have continued to decrease, even though coalition forces have conducted a variety of operations throughout the country," Sherlock said. "While this is indeed encouraging, al Qaeda in Iraq, other extremist groups and criminal elements in Iraq continue to be major threats."
Extremist groups are still very capable of staging spectacular attacks, so the coalition must remain committed to the fight, Sherlock said. He noted that the continuing rise of concerned local citizens' groups and improvements in Iraqi security forces is encouraging.
Sherlock said the United States still is working with the governments of Turkey and Iraq on a diplomatic solution to the problem with rebels in northern Iraq. The issue is important to several countries in the region, so the U.S. officials are working with all parties involved to come up with an acceptable solution, he said.
"We are committed to security in that region," he said. "We believe this is an issue between Turkey and Iraq. We are working with both countries, as Turkey is a valued ally for a number of years and Iraq is an ally in the war on terror."