Sunni insurgents appear to have turned their attention
from the U.S. military to Iraqis who cooperate with the coalition.
U.S. officials said insurgents' attacks on American and coalition soldiers have
decreased over the last two weeks. They said Saddam loyalists appear to have
targeted Iraqis suspected of cooperating with the Coalition Provisional
The Sunni attacks included car bombings of Iraqi police stations in
several towns and cities over the last week. Sunni insurgents have also
assassinated police chiefs or senior officials in the towns of Mosul and
Latifiyah, Middle East Newsline reported.
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of the Combined Joint Task
Force 7, said the daily average of attacks in Iraq against U.S. troops has
dropped 30 percent over the last two weeks. At the same time, Sanchez told a
briefing on Friday that over the previous 32 days Sunni attacks on civilians
and Iraqi security forces have more than doubled.
"We had had some days where we went as high as 50 engagements, and over
the last seven-day period we are down to an average 22 engagements per day,"
Sanchez said. "And this decline is most significant in the areas where we
have taken the fight to the enemy and where we have been the most aggressive
in our offensive operations. And I guarantee you that we remain ready to
respond should these engagements increase again."
"These are attacks on key officials such as ministers, police chiefs,
Iraqi security forces, and, more importantly, the innocent people of the
country," Sanchez said. "The stark reality that we all have to face is that
these terrorists have no vision for the future of Iraq, except to create or
re-create a repressive state."
Other officials agreed that Sunni insurgents have revised their tactics.
They said that at one point in November attacks on coalition forces dropped
by 50 percent, but began to escalate over the last week.
"In the past two weeks, these attacks have gone down, attacks against
coalition forces," U.S. Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid said. "But
unfortunately we find that attacks against Iraqis have increased."
Abizaid reiterated that the main threat to the U.S.-led coalition was
from Saddam loyalists. The general said Al Qaida and other foreign
volunteers constituted a small portion of the daily attacks on American
"Foreign fighters are coming in, and it is not correct to say that there
are floods of foreign fighters coming in or thousands," Abizaid said. "The
number is small."