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US Claims Seized Iraqi Camp Trains Terrorists - 2003-03-30


The commander of the coalition fighting the Iraqi government says his forces have seized what he describes as a massive terrorist camp in northern Iraq.

General Tommy Franks did not provide details of the operation, but indicated he expects the camp to provide evidence of the Iraqi government's ties to terrorism.

"Coalition forces have attacked and destroyed a massive terrorist facility in the last 48 hours in northern Iraq and ground forces as we speak are exploiting the results of that strike," he said.

The coalition commander added that U.S. troops parachuted into northern Iraq several days ago in order to prevent feuding between Kurdish factions there.

General Franks said coalition forces have made remarkable progress since the launch of the war on Iraq 11 days ago. He noted that Iraq's southern oil fields are under coalition control and are mostly undamaged. And he said humanitarian aid is starting to flow to needy populations in the south.

The general denied reports he has asked for additional troops due to Iraqi resistance in central Iraq, indicating that the 100,000 U.S. troops ordered to Iraq several days ago were part his original battle plan.

General Franks said the resistance encountered by coalition forces in cities like Nasiriyah and Najaf was by paramilitary forces, he called thugs, that have occupied the centers of the cities.

"They have put themselves in a position to be able to terrorize the Iraqis in these villages and in these cities, and to be able to move out along the lines of communication to attempt to interdict our supplies, he said.

General Franks said supplies continue to flow to coalition troops, which he said are less than 100 kilometers from Baghdad.

General Franks responded to a senior Iraqi official's praise for Saturday's suicide bombing that killed four U.S. soldiers near Najaf, saying such an endorsement shows, what he called, the connection between terrorism and the Iraqi regime.

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