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Iraqis Take More Control but Lose More of Their Force

October 1, 2008

By KIM GAMEL

By Kim Gamel

The Associated Press

BAGHDAD

The number of Iraqi security forces killed in September rose by nearly a third to 159 compared with the same period last year, Associated Press figures showed Tuesday. U.S. troop deaths for the same period fell by nearly 40 percent to 25.

The figures are a sign that U.S. military is increasingly relying on the Iraqis, including U.S.-allied Sunni fighters, to take the lead in operations so they can assume responsibility for their own security and let the Americans eventually withdraw.

Overall civilian casualty figures remained relatively low despite a spate of deadly attacks in Baghdad and surrounding areas during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, which ended Tuesday for Sunnis and will end Thursday for most Shiites.

E ven as Iraqi security forces are taking the lead and the number of violent incidents reported in the country has plunged about 80 percent over the past 15 months, cautious Pentagon leaders have resisted calls for more rapid and hefty troop pullouts. Instead, top commanders insist the security situation remains fragile and the improvements reversible.

One potential source of conflict comes this week, when the Shiite- led government begins to assume authority over tens of thousands of Sunni fighters who turned against al-Qaida in Iraq.

Six U.S. Army brigades, a National Guard unit, and three military headquarters have been ordered to deploy to Iraq next summer, the Pentagon announced Tuesday, in a move that would allow the United States to keep the number of troops largely steady there through much of next year.

There are now about 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

In the latest attack on U.S. troops, an American soldier was killed by small-arms fire Tuesday in northern Baghdad – one of only eight U.S. deaths during fighting in September. The rest were a result of noncombat incidents .

American is killed

In the latest attack on U.S. troops, an American soldier was killed by small-arms fire Tuesday in northern Baghdad – one of eight U.S. deaths during fighting in September. The rest were a result of noncombat incidents, including seven who died in a helicopter crash and several in vehicle accidents.

Originally published by BY KIM GAMEL.

(c) 2008 Virginian – Pilot. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.




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