A week after the fall of Baghdad, the Pentagon says allied military operations are rapidly moving from combat to working to stabilize the country. Some American military operations also continue, especially in the north.
There was more violence Wednesday in Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, where at least three people were killed in shooting stemming from continuing anti-American tensions. The circumstances are unclear, but the unrest follows Tuesday's shooting deaths of at least seven Iraqi civilians by American Marines. The U.S. military says the Marines came under fire by townspeople demonstrating against their presence. With combat operations now largely over, the Pentagon's General Stanley McChrystal is warning of more attacks, as allied troops try to stabilize the country. "In most areas, we are transitionning to going after the pockets of death squads, towards dealing with those elements that want to rise up and cause threats to either the new Iraq or to coalition forces," he says.
Meanwhile, the White House says President Bush will soon call for a U.N. resolution lifting sanctions against Iraq -- opening the way for the country to sell its oil without restrictions. Current U.N. resolutions require that weapons inspectors certify Iraq is free of banned weapons. The United States has not yet invited U.N. inspectors back in.
The search for Iraq's suspected chemical and biological weapons continues, but none have yet been found.
Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, the spokesman for the U.S. Central Command in Qatar says the difficult job continues. "The real heavy duty work [is] being able to get into sites and getting detailed access to people who have knowledge and the facilities about which they may have knowledge, that's on going," he says.
American troops raided the Baghdad home of Rihab Taha -- the Iraqi scientist known as Doctor Germ. But, in Baghdad, VOA's Alisha Ryu reports the doctor's whereabouts are unknown. "Rihab Taha is an Iraqi microbiologist who is believed to have run a secret laboratory, which manufactured the biological agent anthrax for use in weapons," she says. "The raid [of the doctor's home] follows the surrender of Saddam Hussein's top scientific adviser, Lieutenant General Amer al-Saadi, to U.S. forces four days ago." In his first trip to Baghdad, the U.S. Army commander in Iraq, General Tommy Franks, spent six hours Wednesday meeting with his generals at one of Saddam Hussein's palaces. He predicts American troops will remain in the country for some time, while Iraqis organize a new government.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard says Australian troops will begin leaving the Persian Gulf in May. Mr. Howard says about half of the two-thousand-troop contingent will return home next month. He says this includes special forces, the navy's clearance diving teams, fighter jets and two warships. The State Department says Washington is weighing options for dealing with Abu Abbas, the Palestinian terrorist apprehended late Monday in a raid in Baghdad. Washington has rejected Palestinian calls for his release. The United States says it is not party to any amnesty agreement between Israel and the Palestinians regarding Abu Abbas.
Meanwhile, Italy is seeking his extradition so he can begin serving the sentence imposed for the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship "Achille Lauro." It was his Palestinian Liberation Front that carried out the 1985 hijacking in the Mediterranean Sea, in which a disabled, elderly American was killed.