Violence across Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since before the bombing of a Shiite mosque in February 2006 that sparked savage sectarian bloodletting, a US military commander said on Thursday.
There has also been a 50 percent fall-off in violence in Baghdad since January, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, the number two commander of US-led forces in Iraq, told a press conference in Baghdad.
"Attacks nationwide have fallen to the lowest level since before the Golden Mosque bombing," he said, referring to a bombing which destroyed the revered shrine in Samarra and unleashed a relentless wave of reprisals and counter-reprisals across Iraq that has already killed thousands of Iraqis.
"Car bombs and suicide attacks have dropped to their lowest level in a year," Odierno said. "Attacks in Baghdad have reached the lowest level this year and the trend continues to be down."
Civilian casualties had dropped from a high of about 32 per day to 12 per day, the US commander said.
"Al-Qaeda in Iraq is increasingly being pushed out of Baghdad and the surrounding areas," he said. "We are starting to see a normalisation of life across Iraq and also in Baghdad."