Iraqi police fight militia in Najaf
U.S. declines request to send in troops
10:10 AM MST on Thursday, June 10, 2004
NAJAF, Iraq -- After days of relative quiet, fighting flared overnight in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq, resulting in the deaths of five people.
The fighting began just before midnight Wednesday when Iraqi police attempted to arrest four suspected thieves. That led to a clash between police and Mehdi Army militia fighters loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The militia attacked a police station in the center of Najaf with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, and at one point took control of the police station.
Although Najaf Police Chief Sayed al-Jazairi contacted the U.S. commander, asking for U.S. troops to come to his aid, the coalition soldiers were held back from the fight.
"He's got to learn how to deal with it on his own," a senior U.S. officer told CNN. "We will not get involved unless the situation gets way out of hand."
The governor of Najaf province, Adnan al-Zurufi, requested more ammunition and weapons for the Iraqi police Thursday morning and the U.S. commander agreed to send the supplies, the senior U.S. officer said.
The fighting continued for several hours near Najaf's 1920 Revolution Square, witnesses said.
U.S. military sources said five people, including two police officers, were killed.
The fighting comes after a deal was put in place in Najaf over the weekend to stop the fighting between U.S. troops and al-Sadr militia.
The agreement called for the patrol of Kufa and Najaf by Iraqi forces, the redeployment of U.S. troops to the cities' peripheries, and the withdrawal of the militia from the city centers.
On Saturday, a Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman reported a dramatic decrease in hostilities and there has been relative calm since. However, U.S. forces reserved the right to respond militarily if the need arose.
Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the U.S. 1st Armored Division, is scheduled to visit his troops in the Najaf area on Thursday.
Pipeline attacks hurting Iraq economy
Iraq's interim prime minister Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said Thursday that his nation has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues and suffered disruptions in the electrical service and serious environmental damage because of attacks on the country's oil infrastructure.
His remarks came a day after guerrillas detonated an improvised explosive device at the main Kirkuk-Turkey oil pipeline. It was the fourth such attack at oil pipelines over a three-day period.
Referring to more than 130 attacks on Iraq's oil infrastructure in the past seven months, Allawi said: "More than $200 million have been stolen out of the pockets of the Iraqi sovereign government through the loss of oil revenues resulting from attacks to pipelines.
"Attacks on our electrical infrastructure have caused a nationwide loss of power of more than four hours per day.
"It is our people who are sitting in the dark because of these cowardly and treacherous attacks, no our occupiers, " Allawi said. The attacks, he added, have "polluted our waterways and destroyed our farmlands."
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to adopt a U.S.-British resolution that formally ends the occupation of Iraq on June 30 but few believed the action would stop the daily bloodshed.
In a packed council chamber, the 15-nation body endorsed a "sovereign interim government" in Iraq and authorized a U.S.-led multinational force to keep the peace following a late addition on control of military forces sought by France.
"With today's vote, we acknowledge an important milestone. By June 30, Iraq will reassert its sovereignty, a step forward on the path toward a democratically elected government," said U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, who will become ambassador to Iraq at the end of the month.
- The United States and its allies are winning some battles in the terrorism war but may be losing the broader struggle against Islamic extremism that is terrorism's source, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Saturday.
The troubling unknown, he said, is whether the extremists -- whom he termed ''zealots and despots'' bent on destroying the global system of nation-states -- are turning out newly trained terrorists faster than the United States can capture or kill them.
''It's quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this,'' Rumsfeld said at an international security conference.
The United States plans to withdraw one third of its 37,000 troops from South Korea by the end of the next year, according to a South Korean government official.
The cutback appears to be part of a wider rearrangement of American troops in the Pacific. In Tokyo today, the newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported that the United States is sounding out Japan about moving some of the 14,000 United States marines stationed in Okinawa to a Japanese base in Hokkaido.
On a stopover in Okinawa last fall, the United States Secretary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, endured a scolding from the local governor, who complained about the disproportionate burden of the American forces on his crowded island.
Discarding the "trip wire" strategy, Mr. Rumsfeld announced last year that by 2006 all American troops would be shifted south of the Han River, out of artillery range of the North.
About 70,000 of the 115,000 U.S. troops based in Europe are in Germany, where in bygone decades they guarded against Soviet attack. The Pentagon has proposed moving both U.S. Army divisions now based in Germany -- the 1st Armored Division and 1st Infantry Division -- back to the United States, although no final decisions have been made, said a military official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"In the case of Germany and Korea, those are deployments that are essentially artifacts of another time," said defense analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute.
"But we have much more pressing concerns elsewhere. And South Korea is now one of the world's largest economies. If they're not willing to defend themselves, it's a little unclear why we should be carrying the burden."
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