America's top commander in Iraq said Monday he wants to deploy U.S. soldiers alongside Iraqi and Kurdish troops in a disputed swath of northern territory following a series of horrific bombings by insurgents hoping to stoke an Arab-Kurdish conflict.
The move would be a departure from the security pact that called for Americans to pull back from populated areas on June 30. But Gen. Ray Odierno warned that al-Qaida in Iraq was exploiting tensions between the Iraqi army and the Kurdish militia, the peshmerga, to carry out attacks on villages not guarded by either side. The bombings have killed scores of people since Aug. 7.
The U.S. soldiers would act in an oversight role to help the troops work together to secure areas along a fault line of land claimed by both Arabs and Kurds, Odierno said, stressing no final decision had been made.
It is good to see the commander on the ground responds quickly and thoughtfully to the emerging crisis.