U.S.: Iraqi forces should secure Ramadi

May 24, 2006 at 8:33 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 24 (UPI) -- The Iraq city of Ramadi -- capital of Anbar province -- is one of several under terrorist and insurgent control, according to the U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

"I believe that parts of Anbar are under the control of terrorists and insurgents," Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said on CNN Tuesday. "But as far as the country as a whole is concerned, it is the coalition forces, along with Iraqi forces, who are in control. But it's a difficult security situation that Iraq is going through."

Ramadi is the single most dangerous place for U.S. troops to serve, according to military officials in Iraq.

But Joint Staff Deputy Director for Regional Operations Brig. Gen. Carter Ham said Tuesday pacifying Ramadi is the job of the Iraqis, despite the U.S.-led operations in Fallujah and Tall Afar to oust entrenched insurgents there.

"It isn't a situation we can resolve," Ham said. "The Iraqis have got to take the lead in solving this problem.

"Iraq is a sovereign nation. It clearly has the primary responsibility," he said at a Pentagon press conference Tuesday.

Since the Fallujah assault in November 2004 and the Tall 'Afar offensive in September 2005, Iraq security forces have grown larger and more experienced and better able to handle a Ramadi fight when the time comes, Ham said.

Khalilzad told an audience in Amman, Jordan, two weeks ago that time may be nearing.

He said Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has committed to a four-pillared initiative that includes securing the major cities.

"Iraqi security forces, with coalition support, will work to secure Baghdad, as well as to plan and initiate similar efforts in nine other key cities such as Ramadi and Basra," Khalilzad said at the "Rebuild Iraq" exhibition in Amman Jordan May 9.

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