Report doubts US control of Baghdad

Despite troop "surge", military report says US holds only a third of Iraqi capital.

    US and Iraqi forces are unable to "protect the population" in over two-thirds of Baghdad [AFP]

    'Difficult point'
     
    The paper quotes Brigadier-General Vincent Brooks, the deputy commander of the First Cavalry Division which has responsibility for the Baghdad area, as saying that the operation "is at a difficult point right now, to be sure".
     
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    In an interview with the New York Times, Brooks said in many cases US troops were still undertaking functions, such as patrolling and manning checkpoints, that military officials had expected Iraqi troops and police to have taken over.
     
    He said that in some cases the Iraq had not provided all the forces promised, and in some cases had performed poorly.
     
    The US military announced on Sunday the deaths of 14 soldiers in separate attacks across Iraq over the previous three days. At least 21 more US soldiers and an interpreter were wounded in those attacks, the New York Times reported.
     
    Of the 14 deaths, seven occurred on Saturday by roadside bombs, the biggest cause of US troop deaths in Iraq.
     
    Scattered violence
     
    On Monday, there was little sign of progress, except that the defence ministry reported the killing by Iraqi soldiers of a senior al-Qaeda leader in the Sunni fighters' stronghold of Azamiya in Baghdad in early morning clashes.
     
    Related story

    Iraq bomb attack pushes up US toll

    The Iraqi capital continued to see scattered violence on Monday, including three people killed and eight wounded in the southern neighbourhood of Zafaraniya when a minibus struck a roadside bomb.
     
    In northern Baghdad, in Bab al-Muadhem and Fadhel that sit astride the city's Sunni-Shia  fault-lines, two people were killed and eight wounded in ongoing clashes.
     
    Just south of the capital, in the so-called Triangle of Death where US soldiers are still searching for their two missing comrades, a pair of attacks killed two people and wounded two  others.
     
    Christian priest killed
     
    In Mosul, 390km north of Baghdad, armed men murdered a Catholic priest and three assistants, prompting Pope Benedict to condemn it as a "senseless killing".
     
    Iraqi police said Ragheed Aziz Kani, a Chaldean Catholic priest, and his assistants were killed near the church of Rouh al-Quds after leading Sunday prayers in the city's eastern part.
     
    Police sources said the killers stopped Kani's car, dragged him and his assistants out and shot them dead.
     
    Official in Egypt
     
    Also on Monday, Tariq al-Hashemi, Iraq's Sunni Arab vice-president, travelled to Egypt to seek help for stabilising his country.
     
    On his arrival in Cairo, he said: "We are in dire need to for help and co-operation to exchange views on how to end the Iraqi bottleneck. Egypt's pan-Arabism has never let down Iraq."
     
    Al-Hashemi is scheduled to meet the Egyptian president, prime minister and other senior officials, in addition to the Arab League chief and the country's seniormost Muslim cleric.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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