Calm returns to Baghdad with return of US troops

Sunday Times:

HEAVILY armed American troops have returned to some of the most violent areas of Baghdad, patrolling the streets and setting up checkpoints in an attempt to regain control of the city and quell increasing sectarian violence.

Their return sparked fierce criticism from opposition leaders but was welcomed by many ordinary Iraqis desperate for peace after months of murderous violence between rival militias.

US soldiers in tanks and armoured vehicles have moved back into many parts of the capital handed over to the Iraqi police last March after the opening of the country’s new parliament.

Yesterday proved to be one of the most peaceful days in months with no deaths reported in the capital by late afternoon, although two Sunni mosques were raked by gunfire which injured a guard. In contrast, an average of 100 people have been dying in sectarian attacks every day in Baghdad.

...

In Jihad, a suburb in the west of Baghdad notorious for clashes between Sunnis and Shi’ites, residents say they feel safer since the American soldiers returned last week. They have set up checkpoints which are moved every few hours for safety and carry out regular patrols in armoured vehicles.

Many of the mainly Sunni residents say they were frightened of the police and have welcomed the return of the US army.

“We used to say we wanted the Americans to leave because we could look after ourselves; now we want the US army back to stop people being killed,” said one.

Another said: “We can see the American convoys again. For the first time in months I feel that it may be safe to leave home.” (Emphasis added.)

...


This is evidence that the terrorist have lost the hearts and minds battle, and that the US forces are the ones most trusted by Iraqis. It is a complete repudiation of what Democrats like Jack Murtha have been saying for months. It also calls into question the premise of those who believe taht American tactics in dealing with the terrorist have alienated the Iraqi public.

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