Sunday, June 26, 2005

US 'talk to insurgents' as violence increases

In the latest developments from Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld has said that US officials have come "face to face" with representatives from a number of insurgent groups. Speaking to Fox News he added, "The first thing you want to do is split people off and get some people to be supportive." The groups concerned include Ansar Al-Sunna, Mohammed's Army, the Islamic Army in Iraq and Jaysh Mohammed. The Sunday Times said insurgent commanders "apparently came face to face" with four American officials during the talks held on 3 and 13 June at a summer villa near Balad, about 60km north of Baghdad.
Rumsfeld has played down the reports. "I would not make a big deal out of it," he told Fox News. And as for the insurgents, Ansar Al-Sunna denied meetings had taken place. "We categorically deny that any negotiation took place between the Ansar al-Sunna Army and any crusader or apostate," said a statement allegedly by its leader, published on the internet. The resolve of the insurgents was clear, "Jihad is the only way to restore dignity to this nation. Without this dignity, the nation will be shamed and defeated."
Far from being in "the last throes" of insurgency, as declared by Dick Cheney recently, a massive increase of attacks has led to the deaths of at least 40 people today. In Mosul 35 people were killed by at least three suicide bombs. The attacks, which hit a military base, a police station and a hospital, killed police recruits, Iraqi police and civilians. Four Iraqi police were injured in a bomb attack at a checkpoint near the northern city of Kirkuk. A woman and two children were killed by mortar rounds in a residential area of eastern Baghdad. And a US soldier was killed and two injured in a roadside bomb in central Baghdad.
Meanwhile heavy fighting is still continuing near Tal Afar and Al Qain near the Syrian border as US troops continue their sweep against the insurgency. George W Bush is set to make a 'keynote' speech next week on Iraq. "I think about Iraq every day. Every single day, because I understand we have kids in harm's way," the president said earlier in the week. "And I worry about their families; and I obviously, any time there's a death, I grieve." But, he said, "We're making progress."
[22:24 GMT 26/06/2005]

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