Myers says intelligence gleaned since Saddam capture makes Iraq safer
* Says more Iraqis coming forward to offer information and providing for their own security
BEIJING: US General Richard Myers said Thursday US-led forces had gained valuable intelligence since Saddam Hussein was captured and proclaimed Iraq a safer place with more Iraqis offering information.
Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also dismissed any notions that coalition forces were “mired down” by insurgency.
“The situation in Iraq is, from a security standpoint, a little bit better now since the capture of Saddam Hussein,” he said at a press roundtable in Beijing where he met China’s top military brass. “We’ve got some very valuable intelligence that allowed us to go out and capture people in the cells of the former regime elements that were prosecuting the attacks, not just on the coalition but on the Iraqis and the International Red Cross.
He also said there has been a big increase in the number of Iraqis willing to come forward with information “that we can then act on and that has been very helpful.” He put this down to Iraqis no longer being as afraid as they were while Saddam was still on the loose.
His comments came as the US military announced the capture of Khamis Sarhan al-Mohammad, a leading figure in Saddam’s former Baath party who is said to be playing a crucial role in attacks on coalition forces.
However, Myers remained cautious on this being a trend that would continue.
“It is in my opinion too early to know if this is a trend or just a phenomena in just a short period of time,” he said.
In painting a bright picture of prospects for Iraq, he said many more Iraqis had in recent months been providing for their own security while also citing progress in the political sphere. “The fact is we, the international community, have made great progress,” said Myers, but acknowledged that a long road lie ahead. —AFP