By Spc. Shea Butler, 7th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentJanuary 30, 2007
BAGHDAD, Jan. 29, 2007 - The issues were pressing during a meeting where American and Iraqi leaders sat side-by-side to try and solve some security issues for the people of the Karkh District.
Coalition forces and the Iraqi army met with local leaders of the Karkh District during a security council meeting to discuss security issues that have been highlighted during recent events on Karkh District's Haifa Street.
"The meeting was held for the locals to express their concerns to the Iraqi army and the Iraqi Police," said Lt. Col. Avanulas Smiley, battalion commander for 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
Another vital reason for the meeting, Smiley said, was for Karkh leaders to meet the new Iraqi army commander who is in charge of the district's area of operation.
The 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi army Division commander made it very clear to the local leaders during the meeting that he was in charge and is responsible for peace in the district, Smiley said. It was his first security council meeting and it was important for him to meet the districts leaders face-to-face.
During the meeting Smiley made local leaders aware that terrorists would be weeded out of all neighborhoods. He told them it didn't matter whether they were Sunni or Shiite.
The Iraqi commander doesn't claim to be Shiite or Sunni. He told the local leaders he's is simply an Iraqi who wants to support everything toward the rebuilding Iraq, Smiley said.
"Since I am a partner with him, I can say that's how he is on a daily basis," he added, noting this as a key to bringing peace to the Karkh District.
When Smiley was discussing equal treatment of all terrorists, Shiite or Sunni, he said he wasn't able to gauge a reaction to his words, but he was able to see acknowledgement.
"The local leaders understand our purpose," Smiley said.
Iraqi security forces, along with Smiley's troops are working together to secure the Karkh District. They assured the Karkh leaders that they would work their hardest to eliminate the threat of terrorist in their area, Smiley said.
Smiley said the security situation is mostly in the hands of the Iraqi security forces, with coalition forces behind them if needed.
"The responsibility of security hinges upon Iraqi security forces with their understanding of the people and their demographics," Smiley said. "I think that the locals will see increased amount of security in the coming weeks because of the Iraqi security forces presence and the transition of some coalition forces."