Friday, September 15, 2006

U.S. general sees Anbar fight as secondary to Baghdad

American soldiers in Anbar

WASHINGTON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - The effort to subdue Sunni insurgents in Anbar province, long a focus of the Iraq war, has become secondary to the "main effort" -- securing Baghdad to avert civil war, a senior U.S. commander said on Friday.

Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the No. 2 U.S. general in Iraq and the top operational commander, said a classified intelligence report that surfaced this week with a dire account of the situation in Anbar was "right on target."

But Chiarelli acknowledged that commanders have siphoned troops from Anbar, weakening the military's strength there, to bulk up the U.S. presence in Baghdad. Commanders are seeking to curb unrelenting sectarian violence in Baghdad that pits majority Shi'ite Muslims against minority Sunnis who dominated Iraq for decades under deposed President Saddam Hussein.

"Baghdad is our main effort right now," Chiarelli told reporters at the Pentagon in a briefing from Iraq.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet

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