U.S. led forces claimed on Friday that Islamic hard-liners are entering Iraq from neighboring Iran. Meanwhile, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq says the war is not over and that more ground forces may be deployed, this following a series of attacks on U.S. troops. Brian Purchia has the latest.
Lt. General James Conway, commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq, said in a videoconference, Friday, that about a thousand Iraqi exiles have entered Iraq from Iran since Saddam’s regime fell.
LT. GEN. JAMES CONWAY, COMMANDER, FIRST MARINE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
“There are Iraqis who have spent time in Iran who are now coming home who are a political presence. I think their beliefs are basically fundamental beliefs.”
But he also says they have done nothing yet that in his view poses a threat.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is re-considering its ground strategy after a number of attacks on U.S. forces in the past week. The Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which was to be sent home, may now be re-deployed to guard against more assaults. The commanding officer of American troops, General David McKiernan, says these attacks are not random incidents.
GEN. DAVID MCKIERNAN, U.S. COMMANDER OF GROUND FORCES IN IRAQ
“I see it being perpetrated by enemies whose future is gone, they were part of Saddam Hussein's regime, they were tied to him.”
Pentagon officials this week have been less than certain in their predictions that weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq. U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld:
DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
“It is also possible that they decided they would destroy them prior to a conflict.”
But British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Friday, a day after visiting Iraq, says evidence of banned weapons would be found. He told critics to have patience.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER
“That evidence will be found and I have absolutely no doubt it exists.”
Reports have surfaced in Britain citing unnamed intelligence officials that intelligence officers were asked to embellish reports about Iraqi weapons by the British government. Mr. Blair called these reports - in his words - “completely absurd.”
In Baghdad a group of Iraqi artists, actors and students unveiled a new statue on Thursday. The new sculpture replaces the large bronze Saddam Hussein statue, which was torn down by Iraqis and U.S. troops at the end of the war.