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U.S. Forces in Iraq Gain 'Momentum'
Kenneth R. Timmerman
Friday, March 9, 2007

 WASHINGTON -- Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of Multinational Division-North and the 25th Infantry Brigade in Iraq, told reporters Friday morning that his troops have seized another cache of Iranian-made weapons and have "got momentum" in the fight against the insurgents.

Speaking from Baghdad via live video-conference to reporters at the Pentagon, Mixon said he has beefed up his forces in the Diyala province northeast of Baghdad in recent months and is now asking for more units to take counter-insurgency operations beyond the provincial capital, Baquba.

"I've got momentum and want to press forward," Mixon said. "I know what I would do with more troops."

While not contradicting calls for patience from the overall commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, Mixon's upbeat assessment showed that the ongoing troop "surge" was already having a positive effect on the ground.

Mixon said coalition forces were getting more tips on insurgents and weapons caches from the local population, who were "getting sick of the insurgents" and "more comfortable" with the United States and Iraqi troops in their area.

Some of the tips were coming through telephone "tips lines," but others involved "civilians walking in" with information.

Information that led to the seizure of the most recent weapons cache, unveiled today, came from an informant who was "continuing to provide" information on insurgent activities, Mixon said.

Among the seized weapons seized today were more Iranian-made explosively formed projectiles (EFPs).

While Mixon was careful to say that he had "no evidence" of the direct involvement of Iranian government officials in sending the EFPs to Iraq, an intelligence analyst working with him told reporters that the EFPs were not made locally.

"I have no intelligence that shows the domestic production of EFPs in Iraq," the IED expert said.

Diyala province extends from the north of Baghdad all the way to the Iranian border.

 Reports from Iraq in recent days suggest that Iranian Shia insurgents loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr have moved out of Baghdad into Diyala province in an effort to evade the U.S.-led dragnet of the city.

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