The transition of security duties in Iraq from coalition to Iraqi troops appears to be going well, Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, told CNN on Friday.
Petraeus, in charge of U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, arrived in Baghdad on Friday. He will be meeting with Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and other military and political officials. An assessment of security in Iraq after U.S. troops withdrew from the country’s urban areas on June 30 will be on the agenda during Petraeus’ trip. Petraeus said an initial assessment from Central Command shows that the transition is going well and that Iraqi security forces are performing more than adequately.
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Violence remains a concern in Iraq but has been dropping. A representative for Iraq’s Interior Ministry reported an attack on Friday: an explosion of a parked car bomb in northwestern Baghdad that wounded six civilians. Petraeus said that it is important to be wary of the continued presence of al Qaeda in Iraq and Iranian- backed militias. He said there are connections among militants from different countries throughout the region. His visit comes a day before a major political event in Iraq — local elections in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. There has been tension between the central government and Kurdish officials over the allocation of energy resources and the handling of territorial disputes. Petraeus also said that he is concerned that “political competition will turn from shouting to shooting.”