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Iraq rocket fire 'falls sharply'

Rocket and mortar attacks in Iraq are reported to have fallen to their lowest levels for nearly two years.
The US military said such attacks in October fell to 369, half the level during October 2006. This is the third month running of reduced rocket fire.

Mortar and rocket attacks in Baghdad showed a similar pattern, falling to 53 in October from more than 200 in June.

US officials said this was in part due to the US troop surge for the capital launched in February.

Other reasons for the reduction were the discovery of arms caches following tip-offs from Iraqis, the killing of more insurgents and successful reconciliation campaigns, US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel James Rikard said.

Upbeat briefings

US commanders and Iraqi officials have been briefing regularly that violence levels have dropped.

This appears to be supported by figures from Iraqi ministries on the death toll in Iraq - 887 Iraqis were killed in October, up on the September figure but significantly lower than the 1,992 deaths recorded in January 2007.

Some US military officials have said that al-Qaeda in Iraq, the group believed to be behind many of the biggest suicide bombings, has been driven out of Baghdad.

Other senior US officers warned recently that the downward trend in violence was not yet irreversible.

On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said that car bombs and roadside bombings in Baghdad had dropped by 77% compared to levels prior to the launch of the US troop surge.

 

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