Gates gets assurances from Iraqi PM over crackdown on armed groups
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has returned to Washington with assurances that so far Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is living up to his promise to support a renewed crackdown on armed groups.
Three Iraqi divisions are ready to go to Baghdad as promised and American forces have detained suspected Iranian agents and death squad leaders, without government interference. Under the plan, to which President Bush has committed an additional 21,500 American troops, U.S. commanders have been promised a freer hand against both Sunni and Shiite groups.
"So far so good," General George Casey, the top US commander in Iraq told reporters Friday in southern Iraq after a tour of military facilities in Basra and Tallil with Gates. Casey said he thought some of the extra troops might return home after a few months.
"I think it's probably going to be the summer, late summer, before you get to the point where people in Baghdad feel safe in their neighborhoods," Casey said, according to the AP.
Asked how long the additional American forces would remain, Casey replied, "I believe the projections are late summer."