" Iraqi forces began on Sunday removing concrete slabs from a number of protective blast walls around Baghdad after the government ordered them dismantled in an effort to assure Iraqis that the security situation in the embattled country was improving. Iraqi forces could be seen on the streets of the capital on Sunday standing by, and some even helping out, as a crane lifted the concrete slabs out of their positions around the city. The Iraqi government had announced earlier in the week that the blast walls - which were put in place to protect building from blasts and suicide bombers - would be dismantled within 40 days. Security officials say the walls helped reduce violence and protect people. But many Iraqis saw them as an iconic symbol of war, suffocating Baghdads thoroughfares and separating neighborhoods for more than two years. "