American troops in Iraq less aggressive to win Iraqi hearts

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Washington, Aug.21 : Searches in suspect Iraqi neighbourhoods by the American armed forces have become less aggressive in an attempt to win the hearts of Iraqis ravaged by years of war. The recent U.S. military success in quelling extremist violence in Baghdad has also helped change the way American troops do business in the Iraqi capital.

U.S. officials say the focus has shifted from killing or capturing the enemy to winning the hearts and minds of the people upon whom the enemy has depended.

The Washington Times quoted Major Geoff Greene, the executive officer of the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, as saying that: "I think a lot of soldiers are bored, I really do; [but] some are happy there´s not a lot of kinetic operations going on, and some are happy they get to go out and talk to people on the street and see that we´re making things better for them."

However,some special groups, offshoots of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr´s Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) army - remain a "long-term threat to the security of Iraq and its people."

According to a recent assessment by the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division,which is in charge of the Baghdad area, gunmen in northeastern Baghdad are "still not adhering" to a May cease-fire between Mr. al-Sadr and the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki."

Colonel Allen Batschelet, chief of staff of the 4th Infantry Division, said that while the Americans were concerned about the terrorist activity or individuals who want to do bad things in Baghdad, efforts were on to normalise the situation in the region as quickly as possible.

With violence down and Iraqi Security Forces taking on more day-to-day security details, Americans are able to more fully mine the other components of their counter-insurgency plan.

ANI

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