At the Pentagon, meanwhile, the top Marine general told reporters Wednesday that he has set aside his proposal to shift Marine forces from Iraq to Afghanistan, reflecting opposition from Gates. “After discussion with the secretary and with my colleagues on the Joint Staff, there is a determination that right now the timing is not right to provide additional Marine forces to Afghanistan,” said Gen. James T. Conway, the Marine Corps commandant. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsGates, who met with commanders in Mosul before heading to Baghdad for talks with Iraqi leaders, acknowledged the new challenges in the north. “What I heard them say was that they … did need some additional forces … particularly west of the river,” said Gates, who appeared at a press briefing with Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul-Qader al-Obeidi. He said that as military operations in Baghdad pushed al-Qaida north, there was a “resulting increase in terrorist activities in Mosul and surrounding areas as al-Qaida tried to establish a new foothold.” Gates, who is using his latest unannounced trip to Iraq to assess whether the downturn in violence in parts of the country can be sustained, also said he believes a stable Iraq is within reach. “In many parts of the nation, the positive developments have led to a growing sense of normalcy and hope,” said Gates. BAGHDAD – U.S. military commanders in northern Iraq told Defense Secretary Robert Gates here Wednesday that they need more troops to battle increased attacks by al-Qaida terrorists who have fled north after being pushed out of the Baghdad region. The call for the movement of Iraqi and U.S. forces into the north comes as Gates hailed the improved security in Baghdad and said a stable Iraq is within reach. Just before Gates spoke in the heavily fortified Green Zone, however, a car bomb exploded across the Tigris River in a largely Shiite Baghdad neighborhood, killing at least 14 people, police said. Up in Mosul, Army Col. Tony Thomas, deputy commander of U.S. forces in the north, told reporters traveling with Gates that commanders would like more U.S. troops, as well as the return of 1,400 Iraqi troops who were sent to Baghdad as part of the military buildup there earlier this year. The plan could shift extra troops from other areas of the country that are more secure. Thomas would not say how many troops are needed or where they would be deployed, but he said the U.S. needs more combat power to help stabilize a number of areas – including Diyala province, Mosul and Samara – to help counter an uptick in violence, including suicide bombings. He said military leaders are still discussing the issue, and have made no final decisions.