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U.S. commander in Iraq warns against faster troop withdrawal
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08:48, December 24, 2007

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The top U.S. commander General David Petraeus warned on Sunday against faster troop withdrawal from Iraq because security process U.S. troops made in the country remains "fragile."

Petraeus said in an interview with Fox news since insurgent attacks and U.S. troops casualties have been sharply reduced, the United States is ready to withdraw five combat brigades from Iraq by mid next year.

However, he noted "what has been achieved here remains tenuous and is still fragile in a number of areas."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has agreed that any further troop withdrawal would depend on whether Iraqi violence continues to fall or not, Petraeus added.

Pentagon said in a report released on Tuesday that the surge earlier this year has been working, with U.S. forces achieving "significant security progress" in Iraq over the past three months with the number of attacks down 62 percent.

Besides five brigades Petraeus suggested to withdraw by July, Gates said on a Friday press conference that he planed to take five more combat units home by the end of next year, which would eventually bring the number of U.S. troops in Iraq down to about 100,000 from 158,000 now.

However, he emphasized that many developments could affect that plan, and he left open the possibility that the U.S. may need to add troops in Afghanistan.

Source: Xinhua



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