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American military officials are touting progress in the Baghdad security “surge” and defending a controversial barrier dividing Shiite and Sunni neighborhoods in the capital as a temporary measure.

According to a news release issued Tuesday, a deputy commander of all forces in Baghdad said the security wall in the Adhamiyah district is “not meant to keep people out, or shut people in.”

“What [barriers] allow Iraqi and coalition forces to do is to closely monitor the traffic in and out the area, though, and help ensure the safety of the residents,” said Brig. Gen. John F. Campbell, deputy commander of maneuver for the 1st Cavalry Division.

In recent days, the announcement of the Adhamiyah wall has been denounced by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, but defended by U.S. and Iraqi military officials as a necessary, temporary measure.

It was unclear Tuesday whether the wall was being dismantled — as demanded by Maliki — or if it would continue to be built.

As for the larger Baghdad security operation dubbed Operation Fardh al-Qanoon, Campbell saidmore than 200,000 security patrols have been conducted, resulting in 300 weapons caches recovered.

Though the level of sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims has decreased, attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops have picked up, as have large-scale car bombings that kill and wound hundreds at a time.

“Al Qaida in Iraq indiscriminately targets civilians across Baghdad intent only on causing chaos to undermine the government of Iraq and dishearten the Iraqi people,” Campbell said in the news release.

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