WASHINGTON– As U.S. forces move from Iraq’s urban areas in accordance with the U.S.-Iraqi security agreement, they’ll be better positioned to target insurgents where they operate, the deputy commander of Multinational Division Baghdad said yesterday. Army Brig. Gen. Frederick S. Rudesheim said the relocation, required by June 30 under the security agreement that took effect Jan. 1, will increase urban security by putting troops closer to insurgents’ rural hideouts.

This, he said, will help them better target the places where enemy forces organize and launch their urban attacks.

“We’re talking about an enemy that tries to establish itself in rural areas and establish support zones in the rural areas around Baghdad,” said Rudesheim, who also is the 1st Cavalry Division’s deputy commanding general for support.

Troops moving into these areas will be positioned “to improve security outside and in the city centers by choking off supply chains fueling terrorism,” he said.

Rudesheim said the repositioning won’t bring an end to urban combat, noting that “isolated acts of violence and disruption” will continue.

“We will have combat operations in the city,” he explained, “but they just will not emanate from the cities.”

It’s still not clear, he said, if a residual U.S. force will remain in Baghdad’s International Zone, commonly referred to as the “Green Zone,” after June 30.

But even as combat forces leave the city, U.S. military transition teams will remain behind to train and equip Iraqi security forces that Rudesheim said are exhibiting growing professionalism. He noted the success of a recent religious pilgrimage to Baghdad — the largest and safest since the Iraqi government authorized their resumption — as a sign of the Iraqis’ growing security capabilities.

U.S. troops will continue to provide reinforcement as requested after moving to the city outskirts, and won’t allow progress to unravel, Rudesheim emphasized.

“We will not forsake the security that has been established by the Iraqi security forces and the coalition forces,” he told reporters. “Everything we do will be a responsible and thoughtful action based on the security of a particular area.”

Rudesheim pointed to other activities under way in support of the U.S-Iraqi security agreement. Multinational Force Baghdad has relinquished control of 11 facilities, including combat outposts and joint security stations, since Feb. 1. A large forward operating base will revert to Iraqi control later this month, and more facilities are slated to be returned, closed or converted for other uses by late May.

“As a coalition force, we remain dedicated to our partnership with the Iraqi security forces and look forward to our continued success in the future,” Rudesheim said. “We want to see the government of Iraq and the security forces of Iraq succeed.”

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