The US military commander in Iraq says there are grounds for optimism over the latest security drive.
Gen David Petraeus told the BBC that with two out of the five extra brigades now on the ground in Iraq, there had been fewer sectarian attacks.
He said he would have an idea of the chance of success once all extra troops were deployed in the coming months…
Gen Petraeus said: “By early June, we should then have everyone roughly in place – and that will allow us to establish the density in partnership with Iraqi security forces that you need to really get a good grip on the security situation.”
He said there were “encouraging signs”, although he added that he did not want to get “overly optimistic at all on the basis of several weeks of a reduced sectarian murder rate”.
He said the new operation had led hundreds of families to return to “neighbourhoods that had really emptied out”.
But Gen Petraeus also pledged to speak candidly if he thought the operation was not working.
He said: “I have an obligation to the young men and women in uniform out here, that if I think it’s not going to happen, to tell them that it’s not going to happen, and there needs to be a change.
“In other words, if you can’t accomplish your mission, you owe that to your boss – and you owe that, more importantly, to those who are out there serving in the coalition.”