Iraq sit­u­a­tion re­port

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

A se­nior mil­i­tary of­fi­cer posted in Bagh­dad said in an in­ter­view that some progress is be­ing made in talks be­tween a spe­cial sub­com­mit­tee of U.S., Iraqi and Ira­nian of­fi­cials aimed at stop­ping Tehran’s back­ing for in­sur­gents and ter­ror­ists.

“The key point is that we are talk­ing and that we are work­ing all venues from diplo­matic and mil­i­tary within Iraq to counter the ex­ter­nal in­flu­ences of for­eign fight­ers com­ing into Iraq,” the of­fi­cer said.

This third round of talks was held Aug. 6 in Bagh­dad.

On the surge ef­forts, the of­fi­cer said, U.S. and al­lied forces have “pretty much cleared Baqouba” of in­sur­gents. The city, lo­cated about 30 miles north­east of Bagh­dad just out­side the no­to­ri­ous Sunni Tri­an­gle, was once among the most dan­ger­ous ter­ror­ist and in­sur­gent op­er­at­ing zones.

“Food and other es­sen­tial ser­vices are flow­ing in via Iraqi con­voys,” the of­fi­cer said. “We are work­ing with the city coun­cil and pro­vin­cial au­thor­i­ties to get other things mov­ing as far as wa­ter, power and all the other re­con­struc­tion ef­forts now that the city has been cleared out.”

Marines in north­east An­bar prov­ince are con­tin­u­ing to go af­ter al Qaeda ter­ror­ists near Lake Thar, the of­fi­cer said. “We are go­ing to try and drive a stake in the heart of al Qaeda in Iraq there as they have been us­ing that area as a stag­ing area to launch at­tacks against Bagh­dad,” the of­fi­cers said.

Mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions against in­sur­gents in Arab Jabour, at the south­ern belt of Bagh­dad, also are go­ing well. “The Sunni sheiks are now sup­port­ing our ef­forts and re­cruit­ing for the [Iraqi Se­cu­rity Forces] and lo­cal neigh­bor­hood watch is go­ing on,” the of­fi­cer said.

Also, the Iraqi gov­ern­ment is step­ping up ef­forts to take on the prob­lem of the Shi’ite mili­tias and have not blocked U.S. forces from go­ing af­ter them.

Bill Gertz cov­ers the Pen­tagon. He can be reached at 202/636-3274 or at bgertz@wash­ing­ton­

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