Major General Rick Lynch gave a briefing today. Some highlights:
- Mosul: 1,000 killed or detained
- Zarqawi having "no effect" on Coalition or Iraqi forces (later re-emphasized "zero effect"), forced to attack innocent civilians as we saw today and yesterday; 14 car bombs (7 suicide); attacked "first responders" (medics, firefighters) as well. (Bastards. If that doesn’t make them “terrorists” the word has no appropriate use.)
- counter-insurgencies "historically, last 10 years"; this one will be won by Iraqis people, gov't and security forces
- insurgency has not been able to establish safe haven, not been able to stop recruiting, > 190,000 trained & equipped Iraqi forces, not been able to derail democratic process
Tal Afar operations:
- Operations ongoing
- Iraqi forces outnumber Coalition forces
- Since 26th of August: 500 terrorists killed or captured, 24 caches of ammunition seized
- People of Tal Afar asked for help
- Reconstruction beginning: U.S. spending $3 million, $50 million from Iraqi gov't
- Limited structural damage
Lynch Q&A notes:
Reporter notes reports of airstrikes, asks whether this means operations alluded to by the Iraqi Defense Minister against terrorists in four other cities have begun. Lynch doesn’t answer directly, says they will not allow a safe haven for terrorists anywhere in Iraq.
Lynch says a poll found 75% of Iraqis said they will turn in terrorists (I note the Iraq Index shows the number of phones has risen immensely, from 833,000 prewar to 4.5 million in August 2005, and this post from an Iraq newspaper mentions several terrorist tiplines, Technology is more our ally than the terrorists’.). Lynch remarks that the tip lines are getting better results all the time.
In response to a question about claims by Juan Cole and others that the U.S. is engaging in “sectarian cleansing” in Tal Afar, Lynch says “that is absolutely absurd.” He sounds disgusted when he says it, and notes both Shiite and Sunni leadership asked for help in Tal Afar. (Maybe we should invite Mr. Cole to bring his allegedly Informed Comments to the next briefing.) Lynch says any sectarian violence would be investigated not encouraged.
Lynch says of reports insurgents escaped Tal Afar “if some got away, it wasn’t many.”
“Democracy is failure for the insurgents.” (This is very true, and it makes me wonder why that is never stated as such in the press, e.g. articles beginning “In another failure for the insurgency…” or “In another blow to insurgent hopes…” every time democracy moves forward. In fact, almost nothing is ever characterized as a defeat for insurgents; sometimes it seems they can do no wrong in the eyes of the media (I suspect this is how a war becomes defined as “unwinnable”). No wonder most Americans don’t think we’re doing very well.)