General in Iraq ‘Encouraged’ as Elections Approach
By Gerry J. Gilmore American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2009 – Violence in Iraq has dropped to the lowest levels seen since 2003 as the Iraqi people prepare to vote in new legislative and general elections slated for January, a senior U.S. military officer said here today.
“I’m encouraged now that violence is at an all-time low; that the levels are down to where they were in 2003,” Army Brig. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, Multinational Force Iraq’s deputy chief of staff for strategic effects, told reporters during a news briefing at the Washington Foreign Press Center.
The reduced violence in Iraq today, Lanza said, indicates “continued improvement in Iraq's security environment, through the combined efforts of Iraq and U.S. forces.”
The 120,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq “continue to push hard,” Lanza said, following the June 30 implementation of a U.S.-Iraq security agreement through which Iraqi security forces took primary responsibility for security within the country’s cites.
U.S. combat forces today are conducting partnered, full-spectrum operations outside Iraqi cities and also along the borders, Lanza said, to deny extremists safe havens and reduce the foreign flow of lethal aid, and specifically foreign fighters, into Iraq.
“Our combined focus today remains on securing the Iraqi population and enabling Iraq to continue to move forward,” Lanza said.
The success of a two-day U.S.-Iraq business and investment conference that drew 1,500 people and concluded here yesterday reflects the greatly improved security in Iraq, Lanza said, as well as the Iraqi people’s eagerness and desire to move forward.
“What you have right now is Iraqis are truly embracing the rule of law,” Lanza said. “And I think what we’ve talked about here in the last couple of days at this economic conference was a reassurance to U.S. businessmen that Iraq is a country that is administered by the rule of law and a law that supports the constitution.”
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