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U.S. Bases in Iraq "Prison-Like" for GIs

An Iraqi military commander on Monday compared new restrictions on the U.S. military to "house arrest," saying American combat troops cannot patrol as freely as they did before pulling out of cities on June 30.

Col. Ali Fadhil, a brigade commander in Baghdad, cited several occasions in which Iraqi troops turned down U.S. requests to move around the capital, and in one instance to conduct a raid - the Iraqis carried out that operation themselves. The new balance of authority stems from a security agreement that requires all U.S. troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

Fadhil spoke to The Associated Press about conditions in Baghdad, where violence has dropped dramatically since the sectarian bloodletting and insurgent attacks that swept much of the country in past years.

"They are now more passive than before," he said in reference to his U.S. allies. "I also feel that the Americans soldiers are frustrated because they used to have many patrols, but now they cannot. Now, the American soldiers are in prison-like bases as if they are under house-arrest."

The U.S. military in Iraq had no immediate comment Monday on the relationship with its Iraqi counterparts. It has said that it remains available to assist them and has noted progress in the Iraqi military despite lingering questions about its resolve and training.

On July 16, three U.S. soldiers were killed in an assault on a U.S. base near an airport in Basra in southern Iraq. Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, commanding general of Multi-National Division-South, said the U.S. was committed to fulfilling the terms of the security agreement. But he also said: "U.S. forces have an inherent right to self-defense and the authority to protect themselves."

Hadi al-Amiri, a lawmaker and member of the parliament's security and defense committee, said the Americans' withdrawal from the cities went very smoothly.

Outside of cities, Americans are free to move without approval, Iraqi officials said. Iraqi forces face near-daily attacks in urban areas, though most of the violence is not on the scale of the past.

On Monday, a car bomb killed two police officers and injured eight civilians in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, said Maj. Gen. Tareq Youssef, the police chief of Anbar province. Ramadi, the provincial capital, was once a stronghold of Sunni insurgents.

Four police and one civilian died in attacks in and near the northern city of Mosul, Iraqi police said.