Saturday, November 24, 2007

Do I detect the Iraq story subtly changing...?
Wed Nov 21, 9:51 AM ET

US general says Iran helping stop Iraq bloodshed

BAGHDAD (AFP) - A US general on Wednesday acknowledged Iran's role in helping quell the bloodshed in Iraq, saying Tehran had contributed to stopping the flow of arms across the border into the country.

Lieutenant General James Dubik, who is in charge of training Iraqi security forces, said Tehran was keeping to its pledge of stopping the smuggling of weapons to Iraqi extremists.

"We are all thankful for the commitment Iran has made to reduce the flow in weapons, explosives and training (of extremists) in Iraq," Dubik told reporters in Baghdad's Green Zone.

"As a result of that, it has made some contribution to the reduction of violence" in Iraq, he said.

US commanders claim violence in Iraq has dropped by 55 percent since the military's surge became fully operational in June.

Dubik said it was still early to assess the exact contribution of Iran but "we hope that the commitment stays in effect."

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates earlier this month said Tehran had assured Baghdad it would help stop the inflow of Iranian weapons into Iraq.
If past experience is any guide, expect Lt. General Dubik to find himself "prematurely retired."

Or maybe this is a backhanded way of justifying previous US claims that Iran is arming "insurgents" in Iraq. "So, when did you stop beating your wife, Mr. Smith...? And by the way, thank you for stopping!"

Meanwhile, there's this, from the

Attacks fall 90% since UK Basra pull-out

ATTACKS have plunged by 90 per cent in southern Iraq since Britain withdrew its troops from the main city of Basra, their commander has said.

The British presence in central Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, was the single largest trigger for violence, Major General Graham Binns said.

About 500 British troops moved out of one of Saddam Hussein's palaces in the heart of Basra in early September, joining some 4500 at a garrison at an airport on the city's edge.

Since then there has been a "remarkable and dramatic drop in attacks", General Binns said.

"The motivation for attacking us was gone, because we're no longer patrolling the streets."

Last spring, British troops' daily patrols through central Basra led to "steady toe-to-toe battles with militias fighting some of the most tactically demanding battles of the war", General Binns said. Now British forces rarely enter the city centre, an area patrolled only by Iraqis.

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