Iraq military to lift some restrictions in Baghdad
Iraqi military commanders signaled Monday that they would soon remove some roadblocks and other restrictions that had been imposed over the past nine months as part of the effort to reduce violence here in the capital, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
However, with tens of thousands of American troops likely to remain on the streets of Baghdad for some time, the announcement appears to have been made by the Iraqi leadership to show that it wants to change the emphasis of the nine-month security operation from the military crackdown of its earlier stages to the provision of vital utilities and social services, the Times wrote.
Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, the Iraqi spokesman for the operation, which began Feb. 14, said a recent decline in violence would allow the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to begin handing control of some areas of the city from soldiers to local police units, according to the Times.
An American spokesman in Baghdad said the United States military had no comment. The Times wrote that American commanders have made it clear that while the threat from Al-Qaida in Mesopotamia has been reduced in some areas, the group, which consists of homegrown extremists who American intelligence agencies say are foreign-led, is by no means a spent force.