The No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq stated Thursday that a seven-month-old security operation has reduced violence in Baghdad by half, but he acknowledged that civilians were still dying at too high a rate.
Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno told reporters that car bombs and suicide attacks in Baghdad have fallen to their lowest level in a year, and civilian casualties have declined from a high of 32 to 12 per day. According to him, violence in Baghdad had seen a 50 percent drop.
"What we do know is that there has been a decline in civilian casualties, but I would say again that it's not at the level we want it to be," Odierno said, according to the AP. "There are still way too many civilian casualties inside of Baghdad and Iraq."
Al-Qaeda in Iraq was "increasingly being pushed out of Baghdad, "seeking refuge outside" the capital and "even fleeing Iraq," Odierno said.
Odierno said the U.S. military had separately released at least 50 detainees per day, or a total of at least 250, since beginning an amnesty program for inmates as a goodwill gesture linked to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
In Anbar province west of Baghdad, meanwhile, a U.S. soldier was killed Wednesday in a non-combat incident, the military said.
A car bombing at an Iraqi checkpoint in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood killed two Iraqi soldiers and a civilian, and injured seven others. A roadside bomb struck an Iraqi police patrol near a stadium in eastern Baghdad, killing one officer and wounding five people.