August 16th, 2007 05:29 EST
No Progress in Iraq?
BAGHDAD — A military official discussed current events in Iraq at the Combined Press InformationCenter Wednesday.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner, Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman, gave a situational update for the Iraq theatre.
Bergner opened the press conference by discussing Tuesdays attack on the Nineveh province.
“The Coalition is assisting the Iraqi Army and provincial authorities in providing humanitarian assistance, and will work closely with government authorities to bring these terrorists to justice,” Bergner said.
Bergner also discussed the loss of the governor and the chief of police in Diwaniya. They were returning from a funeral when their convoy was attacked by what is speculated to be an explosively-formed penetrator, Bergner said.
“The Ministry of Interior is now conducting a criminal investigation along with the Iraqi Police to find the extremist who carried out this attack,” Bergner said.
A recent rocket attack on a Coalition operating base provided more evidence of Iranian involvement in Iraqi terrorism. Coalition Forces were able to interdict some of the rockets before they could be used. Servicemembers recovered several 240-mm rockets with the markings sanded down, Bergner said.
“The 240-mm rocket is a large-caliber projectile that has been provided to militia extremists groups in the past along with a range of other weapons from Iranian sources,” Bergner said.
Multi-National Corp-Iraq is conducting Operation Phantom Strike, a joint Iraqi/Coalition operation directed at protecting the Iraqi people and targeting terrorists. The operation will use information gained over the last few months to attack extremists operating in areas of Iraq, Bergner said.
Eighteen senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders were captured or killed and hundreds of lower-level operatives were also captured or killed, Bergner said.
Five al-Qaeda senior leaders have been captured or killed in the month of August, Bergner said.
Iraqi and Coalition forces also conducted several operations against special groups networks. Twenty-six special groups network leaders and operatives have been detained or killed in the month of August, he said.
Iraqi Security Forces and government leaders joined together recently to facilitate the safe passage of millions of Iraqis to the al-Kadam Mosque. The operation involved thousands of Iraqi Security Force members both police and Army.
“Ensuring security for such a large gathering was an enormous undertaking, Bergner said. “The Iraqi Security Forces were out there in force and this corps-level operation was planned and conducted by them.”
The government of Iraq is continuing to work with local communities to provide aid. Central government leaders recently conducted their third consecutive trip to Baqoubah to help begin reconstruction. The Iraqi government has delivered 2,300 tons of flour, 2,300 tons of rice, as well as tea, cooking oil and baby food. The government has also restored the distribution of consumer fuels, Bergner said.
The Al-Anbar Provincial Council has reopened the provincial government center in Ramadi and provided $49 million for 86 various projects to provide basic needs such as healthcare, roads, electricity and water, Bergner said.
Five-hundred Anbar men joined the Iraqi security forces in the first graduation from the recently reopened Habbaniyah police training center.
“This is the first class to graduate from the training center which opened in early June and will now provide the police the capability to have a permanent security presence throughout Al Anbar,” Bergner said.
Iraqi locals are continuing to take a stand against violence in the neighborhoods of Iraq. Tips from locals aided in the capture of an al-Qaeda weapons cache in Gazaliah and four al-Qaeda in Iraq operatives in al-Hurriyah, Bergner said.
While Bergner discussed advances in the struggle against terrorism and the rebuilding Iraq, he says there is still much to be done.
“While our commanders have achieved some tactical momentum on the ground, this remains a very hard fight and we expect it will continue to be so,” Bergner said.
(U.S. Army Story by Spc. Alexander Burnett, Combined Press Information Center)