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Tariq Aziz Testifies as Defense Witness in Saddam Trial


Iraq's former deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, has testified as a defense witness in the trial of Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants in Baghdad.

Aziz said Saddam and the other defendants acted within the law in moving to punish those involved in efforts to assassinate the Iraqi president in Dujail in 1982.

The defendants face the death penalty if found guilty of killing 148 Shi'ites in Dujail, after the assassination attempt.

Aziz accused the Shi'ite Dawa Party, now part of Iraq's ruling coalition, of trying to kill him and Saddam in the 1980s. He urged the court to put Dawa leaders on trial.

Meanwhile, security officials said at least seven Iraqis were killed Wednesday, in various attacks. A deputy police chief in Baghdad died after gunmen shot him in his car.

The U.S. military said coalition forces killed seven insurgents and detained two others Tuesday in two separate operations.

In Washington, President Bush said Tuesday he will be able to make a fresh assessment of Iraq's needs for U.S. military help now that a new government is in place.

But Mr. Bush said the new unity government is not yet meeting with U.S. military commanders to come up with a joint plan.

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said Iraqi forces will take over security from foreign troops in most of the country by the end of this year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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