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US Casualties Drop and Weapons Cache Seizures Increase Dramatically

Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno indicated that US troop fatalities in Iraq have dropped sharply in July from May, in both total numbers and those attributed to IED attacks. He was however cautious not to tout the key statistic as 'the' sign that the corner has been turned in Iraq, saying "It's an initial positive sign, but I would argue I need a bit more time to make an assessment of whether it's a true trend or not."

Some additional details contributing to this were provided in a White House Press Briefing by Tony Snow, who noted that "The number of tips received by Iraqis each month has nearly quadrupled from the spring of 2006 to the spring of 2007, from 6,000 to 23,000."

Because of this increase in cooperation from local Iraqis in confronting al-Qaeda and other extremist groups, the number of weapons caches seized in Iraq has increased dramatically, already at 3,700 in the first 7 months of 2007. Only 2,726 terrorist and insurgent weapons caches were removed from circulation in all 2006.

General Petraeus warns cautiously that al-Qaeda still posses the capability to inflict mass casualties through spectacular attacks, such as car bombs. Yet, even that number (car bomb attacks) is down significantly in recent weeks as al-Qaeda is being denied freedom of operation and movement throughout much of the surrounding provinces and Baghdad itself.

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