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06-22-2005, 08:41 AM
'Horrified' US Ambassador Warns of Iraq Civil War


The new US ambassador to Iraq expressed horror at the violence wracking the country and said Islamic extremists and Saddam Hussein loyalists are trying to start a civil war.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who arrived from Afghanistan, said yesterday that militants are using Iraqis as “cannon fodder” in a quest to dominate the Islamic world.

“I will work with Iraqis and others to break the back of the insurgency,” Khalilzad promised on a day that saw more than a dozen gunmen launch an assault on a Baghdad police station, wounding two policemen.

A roadside bomb also killed a US soldier on patrol in western Iraq, officials said, while a mortar attack killed a woman and a child in their home in Tal Afar, 95 miles east of the Syrian border.

“I am horrified by the daily suffering of the Iraqi people. The terrorists attack ordinary people, teachers, doctors, newly trained police and others who are assisting the people of Iraq,” Khalilzad added.

“Foreign terrorists and hard-line Baathists want Iraq to descend into civil war. Foreign terrorists are using the Iraqi people as cannon fodder,” said Khalilzad, who previously served as US ambassador to his native Afghanistan.

The number of attacks blamed on Islamic extremists has escalated since Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced his Shiite-led government on April 28. Nearly 1,200 people have been killed since then.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s justice minister has accused the US of trying to hinder the Iraqi investigation of Saddam Hussein by limiting his access to interrogators, and said “it seems there are lots of secrets they want to hide.”

Justice Minister Abdel Hussein Shandal also said yesterday that he was confident investigators would wrap up the case against Saddam by the end of the year, underlining the Iraqi government’s determination to try the ousted leader soon – though Shandal acknowledged he himself has no say in the timing of the trial.

In response, US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said “the US views the trials of Iraqi officials as a process that is under the authority of the Iraqi government, and will proceed according to decisions that the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Special Tribunal make.

The Americans privately have urged caution about rushing into a trial, saying Iraq must develop a good court and judicial system – one of the main topics of discussion at an international conference on Iraq that was to begin Wednesday in Brussels.

Saddam, 68, has been jailed under American control at a US military detention complex near Baghdad airport.