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The American military command in Iraq on Friday released a statement seeking to blunt reports from recent days in which senior military officers are anonymously quoted as questioning the political will and tactics of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Citing “impressive progress in a very short time,” the news release said the “un-attributed comments [of the news reports] do not reflect the close partnership between the government of Iraq and Multi-National Force-Iraq. We fully support the courageous and decisive efforts of the Prime Minister and the government of Iraq.”

“What I’ve seen … is that he is very capable and he’s doing a good job in a tough environment,” Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq, was quoted in the release as saying. “He is a determined, courageous leader taking on some very difficult issues — Baghdad Security, reconciliation, militias and federalism. He has an awful lot of challenges facing him, and I do believe he is very much up to the task.”

A Sept. 27 article in The Washington Post cited “senior U.S. military commanders” as questioning whether Maliki had the will or ability to stop corruption and challenge religious militias that foment sectarian violence.

“It’s going to take time for a government to cleanse itself over time,” The Post quoted a “senior U.S. military official who spoke on condition of anonymity at a briefing with reporters.”

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