July 31, 2008 5:31 PM

Iraq is safer, but the war isn't over, U.S. commander says

It seemed like another routine trip as the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq boarded his helicopter in Amara, where a battalion of U.S. troops is based. Only two months ago, however, the smuggling hub on the Iranian border was a stronghold of Shiite Muslim militants, a place that no American general without a death wish would visit. The climate has changed, said Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III.

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