Baghdad Blast Walls to Be Removed

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The towering concrete blast walls that have both protected and suffocated Baghdad streets for the past two years will come down within 40 days, Iraq's government announced Wednesday...

...The announcement was the latest in a government push to restore a sense of normalcy and shore up public confidence ahead of national elections scheduled for January.

The U.S. military, which erected most of the walls, said Wednesday it had not been informed of the decision -- an indication of the Iraqis' increasing confidence as the two sides redefine their relationship with the expected withdrawal of the Americans by the end of 2011.

First introduced by the Americans in 2003 to protect their Green Zone headquarters, walls became much more widespread in early 2007 with the launch of a major security campaign to tamp down rampant sectarian bloodshed...

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