Surge working: top US general
David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, said the build-up of American forces in Baghdad since late January had produced positive outcomes. These included the killing or capture of al-Qa'ida fighters, causing the terrorist group to lose influence with local Sunnis.
The strategic gains against insurgents would lead to a changed and possibly longer-term role for Australian troops, shifting from security operations to a focus on training Iraqi soldiers and police.
General Petraeus told The Australian during a face-to-face interview at his Baghdad headquarters there had been a 75 per cent reduction in religious and ethnic killings since last year, a doubling in the seizure of insurgents' weapons caches between January and August, a rise in the number of al-Qa'ida "kills and captures" and a fall in the number of coalition deaths from roadside bombings.
"We say we have achieved progress, and we are obviously going to do everything we can to build on that progress and we believe al-Qa'ida is off balance at the very least," he said.
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