Around 4,000 Iraqi police killed in the last two years

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The Independent Online

Around 4,000 Iraqi police have been killed in the past two years and twice as many have been injured - a toll on the Iraqi security services underlining the ongoing violence and chaos in the country.

The US commander in charge of police training claimed yesterday that despite the high toll on the officers, new recruits were joining all the time.

"They have paid a great price," Maj Gen Joseph Peterson said in a televised briefing. "Yet Iraqis are signing up as recruits every day."

The US has claimed that its timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq is dependent on the recruitment and training of Iraqi security services - a process that has been long and troubled. Maj Gen Peterson said that so far 186,000 Iraqi police have been trained, and that officials expected to exceed the goal of 188,000 by 10,000 by the end of the year. Around 6,000 coalition troops are embedded with the police units.

"A year ago we had a situation where a police station was attacked and policemen would run out the back door, leaving all the equipment," he said. "That does not occur any more."

But whatever claims Maj Gen Peterson may make, it is clear that the problems in relation to the Iraqi security forces are ongoing. Earlier this week it was announced that the Iraqi authorities had suspended a 700-strong brigade of policemen who were suspected of involvement with death squads. An investigation is underway, but Sunni leaders have long said the police are infiltrated by Shia militias who turn a blind eye to such behaviour.