In Iraq, the top American defense official says U.S. military causalities may continue in the weeks ahead, as American troops continue to come under fire from those loyal to the former Iraqi regime. Meanwhile, the U.S.-led reconstruction effort is moving ahead. Robert Raffaele has the details.
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says it will likely take a long time for coalition forces in Iraq to oust fighters loyal to Saddam Hussein.
Secretary Rumsfeld made those comments after meeting in Lisbon with his Portuguese counterpart, Paulo Portas, at the start of a four-day tour of Europe. Mister Rumsfeld blamed recent attacks that have killed 39 U.S. soldiers on remaining Ba’ath Party members and Fedayeen fighters. He says despite the deployment of more international peacekeepers, he expects more violence targeting U.S. troops
DONALD RUMSFELD/U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY
“Do I think that’s gonna disappear in the next month or two or three, no. Will it disappear when some two or three divisions of coalition forces arrive in the country, no. It will take some time to root out the remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime and we intend to do it.”
Mister Rumsfeld’s remarks came after four U.S. soldiers were wounded by hostile fire, in a series of raids to crack down on guerilla fighters northeast of Baghdad Tuesday. A military spokesman said at least 370 Iraqis have been detained, including 30 identified as supporters of Saddam Hussein. U.S. forces also launched a house-to-house search on the streets of Baghdad.
American troops captured two more on a list of 55 Iraqi officials, including a former member of Saddam’s Revolutionary Command Council.
Meanwhile, the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, was on hand for the re-opening of Baghdad’s City Hall complex, which was damaged and looted after Baghdad fell. U.S. authorities have since renovated the buildings. At a press conference, Mister Bremer announced an increase in U.S. funding for reconstruction.
PAUL BREMER/U.S. CIVIL ADMINISTRATOR
“I am pleased to announce today a 100 million dollar construction fund which will pay for much needed investment in Iraq’s infrastructure. A modernized infrastructure is essential in supporting a modernizing economy and at the same time, this fund will create jobs for thousands of Iraqi workers on important projects across the country.”
Mister Bremer also announced the arrival of a new team of American experts to help search for possible weapons of mass destruction. Some critics have accused the U.S. of exaggerating the extent of Iraq’s weapons program, in intelligence reports prior to the war. The White House denies those claims.