Updates on Iraq 

Updates on Iraq

AP: "The number of Iraqi army battalions judged capable of fighting the insurgency without U.S. help has slipped from one to zero since September, Pentagon officials said Friday." (Thanks to Laura Rozen).

Of course, the article goes on to give some good news:

But the number of Iraqi battalions capable of leading the battle, with U.S. troops in a support role, has grown by nearly 50%, from 36 to 53, Air Force Lt. Gen. Gene Renuart said, and the number engaged in combat has increased 11%, from 88 to 98.


The total number of Iraqi security forces is now about 232,000, said Peter Rodman, an assistant secretary of Defense who briefed reporters with Renuart.

So there are more Iraqis in uniform, maintaining security, than Americans and other coalition forces.

But how many of these are militias, or could become such in the blink of an eye?

UPDATE: More from Kevin Drum.


"The Iraqi government has ordered an extension of an extraordinary daytime curfew in Baghdad and the surrounding provinces, according to state television."


Iraq's top Shiite political leader called for Shiite and Sunni unity on Friday as religious figures sought to ease tensions.


"Sunni and Shiite clerics met on Friday to figure out a way to discourage violence and killings between the two sects."


"During the day on Friday, a curfew imposed in Baghdad and three nearby provinces appeared to have calmed the wave of violence, which pushed the country closer to sectarian civil war than at any time since the U.S.-led invasion nearly three years ago."

"The curfew, which left the streets of Baghdad eerily quiet, began on Thursday evening."


"Despite the curfew, there was more violence overnight Thursday.

"Iraqi police found six bodies handcuffed and shot near a parking lot in the area, the Interior Ministry said.

"In Basra, where the curfew was not in effect, gunmen kidnapped three children of a Shiite legislator, police said.

"Elsewhere, police found the bodies of two bodyguards for the Basra head of the Sunni Endowment, a government body that cares for Sunni mosques and shrines. They had been shot.

"South of the capital, in the religiously mixed area known as the "Triangle of Death," gunmen burst into a Shiite home in Latifiyah, separated men from women, and killed five of the males, police Capt. Ibrahim Abdullah told AP.

"In the northern town of Birtilla, which is not covered by the curfew, 500 Shiites marched to demand Saddam's execution and death to Sunni fanatics.

"The biggest Sunni Arab bloc in parliament announced Thursday it was pulling out of talks with the main Shiite coalition, but Khalilzad told reporters he was optimistic they would return to the negotiating table.

"Without the establishment of an inclusive government, the U.S. strategy for disengagement from Iraq will collapse."

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