Commander Urges Disarming Iraq Militias
The second ranking U.S. military commander in Iraq said Wednesday that it
is imperative to disarm militias, but that the Iraqi government must
decide when it should be done.
Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who oversees U.S. military operations
throughout Iraq, is one of a number of senior generals who have been
pressing for Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government to make a
decision on how to deal with militias.
"We have to fix this militia issue. We can't have armed militias
competing with Iraq's security forces. But I have to trust the prime
minister to decide when it is that we do that," Chiarelli
Murders and executions are currently the number one cause of civilian
deaths in Baghdad and much of the violence has been attributed to death
squads, many of which are thought to be offshoots of mainly Shiite
The top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell,
on Wednesday said operations against sectarian death squads have been
stepped up as part of a Baghdad security plan known as Operation Together
Areas targeted have become calmer, but violence has surged elsewhere in
Baghdad, he said.
"We are seeing an increase in attacks, as anticipated. The
terrorists and illegal armed groups are punching back in an effort to
discredit the government of Iraq and more specifically the Baghdad
security plan," Caldwell said. "Murders and executions are
currently the number-one cause of civilian deaths in
Since mid July, 29 death squad cell leaders, and 254 members, have been
killed or captured, he said.
"Iraqi security forces are making a concerted effort to defeat the
insurgency and stop sectarian violence," Caldwell said.
"Specifically Iraqi security forces are taking the fight to death
squads within the Baghdad area."
But some senior military officials, including the commander of U.S.
forces in Baghdad, have said that al-Maliki and Iraq's politicians have
to do more.
"Militias are holding the rule of law in contempt. We're pushing
this government to get a policy as to how they're going to deal with it
so their own people know how to deal with the militias," Maj. Gen.
James D. Thurman told The Associated Press last week.
©2006 Associated Press