KIM GAMEL
The Associated Press
March 16, 2009

American forces will still conduct joint combat operations even after they pull back to bases outside Baghdad and other cities as part of the U.S.-Iraqi security agreement, a spokesman said Sunday.

Brig. Gen. Frederick Rudesheim, a deputy commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, said the redeployment to the periphery will actually help improve security in the capital because U.S. troops can help stop militants from using bases in rural areas to stage urban attacks.

[efoods]”I want to leave it very clear that there’s no cessation of combat operations,” Rudesheim said at a news conference in Baghdad’s heavily guarded Green Zone.

But he said the troops will travel to the site of the combat operations from bases outside the city instead of outposts that were established throughout various neighborhoods as part of the 2007 U.S. troop surge.

Rudesheim’s comments come a week after Baghdad was hit by two separate suicide bombings that killed more than 60 people, raising new concerns about the readiness of Iraqi forces to take over their own security.

“We will not forsake the security that has been established by the Iraqi security forces and coalition forces,” he said.

The security pact calls for U.S. combat forces to leave the cities by the end of June in the first step of a plan to pull out all American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.

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