Mirroring this reduction in violence has been a 70 percent decrease in roadside-bomb attacks and an 85 percent spike in the number of weapons caches Coalition forces have found over the past year, Army Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of Multi-National Corps - Iraq, told reporters via satellite from Baghdad at a Pentagon news conference.
"I attribute most of these hard-fought gains in security to a few key factors: our Coalition forces aggressively pursuing the enemy, the improving capability of the Iraqi Security Forces, and the Iraqi people participating in the rebuilding process of Iraq."
The general praised Coalition troops for having al-Qaida "on its heels," yet he identified the organization as the "primary threat" remaining in Iraq.
"Even though we assess that they are on the run, they are still capable of launching spectacular attacks," Austin said, noting yesterday's bombing in the Diyala province city. "As a result, our operations in the north are focused on defeating their capability to perform these attacks."
"We continue to aggressively pursue al-Qaida and to take away their safe havens and to close off all their escape routes when they try to flee."