Wed, Jul 22, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Iraqi military denies US request to conduct raids

AP , BAGHDAD

The Iraqi military has turned down requests from US forces to move unescorted through Baghdad and conduct a raid ever since the transition of responsibility for urban security at the end

US combat troops withdrew from urban areas on June 30 under a security agreement with Iraq that requires all US troops to be out of the country by the end of 2011.

Colonel Ali Fadhil, a brigade commander in Baghdad, said the transfer had occurred with minor friction in the capital where violence has dropped dramatically since the sectarian bloodletting and insurgent attacks that swept much of the country in past years.

Fadhil told reporters about two occasions in which Iraqi troops turned down US requests to move around the capital until they had Iraqi escorts, and one instance to conduct a raid, which the Iraqis carried out themselves.

“They are now more passive than before,” he said of US troops. “I also feel that the American soldiers are frustrated because they used to have many patrols, but now they cannot. Now, the American soldiers are in prison-like bases as if they are under house-arrest.”

Outside urban areas, where US troops are still free to move without Iraqi approval, Americans are assisting with the search and arrest of insurgents, manning checkpoints and continuing ongoing efforts to train Iraqi forces — from medics to helicopter pilots.

US soldiers recently advised Iraqi soldiers during a seven-hour humanitarian aid drop in Diyala Province.

In Washington, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the highest-ranking US military officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, downplayed reports of tension. Both said cooperation was going well, and Gates said he has heard nothing to suggest that US forces were in greater danger.

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