Dozens Killed, 200 Injured in Iraq Violence

With U.S. combat troops now out of Iraq, insurgents are putting the country's security forces to the test. A series of coordinated attacks, 13 in all, were stages in just about every big Iraqi city. Suicide bombers targeted police. Roadside bombs killed civilians. At least 53 deaths are reported with more than 200 wounded.

CBS News correspondent Terry McCarthy is in Baghdad and spoke with the top U.S. general there about Iraq's security.

Coordinated attacks took place across Iraq today, - all within a two-hour period. It was, as America's top commander in Iraq today said, a bad day.

"I am fairly certain it is al Qaeda, maybe with some other groups working with them," General Ray Odierno said. "It's about the terrorists trying to make a point about the lack of a government, trying to challenge the security forces, put doubts into peoples' minds about whether they are ready or not."

The attacks came just one day after the U.S. pulled out its last combat troops, trusting in the ability of the Iraqis to keep the insurgents at bay. Fifty-thousand U.S. troops remain in Iraq, mostly involved in training Iraqis.

Is it must a worry that they can stage 12 or more attacks, simultaneously on one day?

"It is - it shows that they still have something of a network that they can still do I," Odierno replied. "I think it takes them a long time to plan such events but it is worrying that they can still do it."

The attacks, horrific as they were, are no longer a daily occurrence. The streets of Baghdad are finally starting to feel like the streets of any Middle Eastern city. But that new-found sense of security is pretty fragile. Now the U.S. is pulling out its combat troops, the people say they are a bit nervous that the Iraqi security forces won't be able to keep that peace.

Like it or not, the Iraqis had begun to depend on the American troops.

"They really give us a help when things get bad in Baghdad or any city in Iraq," said SOT: Ahmed al-Hasani, a Baghdad resident. "When they leave, I don't know who will help us."

General Odierno, who leaves Iraq on Sept. 1 after a total of 56 months in this war, is optimistic. But after 4,461 U.S. deaths and more than $700 billion of U.S. taxpayers' money, he is still not ready to declare victory.

Was it worth it?

"I say to everyone, we won't know probably for 3 to 5 years," Gen. Odierno said. "If nothing else, we got rid of a tyrannical dictator who will no longer be able to terrorize the Iraqi people."

Although all U.S. troops are due to leave Iraq by the end of 2011, some Iraqi officials - including the Defense Minister have said they might want U.S. troops to stay on longer. Today, Gen. Odierno said that's something they would consider if they received a specific request from the Iraqi government.

So how prepared are Iraqi security forces right now?

It's quite clear the Iraqi security forces have tremendously improved from the way it was two, three years ago. There are still some problems - with corruption. The real problem they have is not domestically, but an external threat from one of their neighbors. That's an area where the U.S. could be of continuing assistance.

Comments

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

On Twitter

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

Download
The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App