Iraqi police at the site of an explosion at the central bus station in Baghdad on August 8 (epa)
August 9, 2006 -- U.S. and Iraqi forces today formally launched the second phase of a security plan designed to regain control of the streets of Baghdad.
The commander of U.S.-led forces in the Baghdad region, Major General James Thurman, said the level of violence in Bagdad that is fueling sectarianism "must be dramatically reduced."
The second phase of Operation Together Forward will bring an extra 6,000 Iraqi police and troops into the capital, along with 5,500 U.S. soldiers.
The first phase of the plan, which began in June, has already put more than 50,000 soldiers on the streets.
"What we do know is that these death squads, the anti-Iraqi elements, the terrorists out there, continually try to embed themselves right in within the civilian population," U.S. Army Major General William Caldwell, a spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq, said in Baghdad today. "That's a tactic they've been using. They want to get in close to the civilian population. They want to make it extremely difficult to get to them without inflicting casualties on civilians. They know exactly what they are doing by where they are placing themselves."
The violence has continued, however. A series of bombings in central Baghdad on August 8 killed at least 19 people. Five more died in a bank robbbery in a northern district of the capital.
Elsewhere, a U.S. Marine helicopter has crashed in Iraq's restive Al-Anbar Governorate, west of Baghdad, leaving two crew members missing. The U.S. military says four other crew members are in stable condition.
The military says the crash took place on August 8 and does not appear to have been the result of enemy action.
(Reuters, AP, AFP)
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