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Coalition Forces in Iraq Face Continuing Threat, Admits US Administrator - 2003-06-29

Coalition forces in Iraq will suffer further casualties until fighters loyal to the former regime are stamped out. That is the assessment of Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq, in an interview on British television.

The daily threat to coalition troops in Iraq from isolated attacks or ambushes is very real and it will not be going away at least in the short term.

Mr. Bremer says that is the stark reality of the situation. But, he added, any and all hostile intent will be dealt with quickly.

"We are going to fight them and impose our will on them and we will capture or, if necessary, kill them until we have imposed law and order on this country," he said.

Mr. Bremer was asked if he thought that these sporadic attacks were in any way coordinated or linked to maximize the effect and to keep coalition forces guessing.

"What we have seen is largely isolated attacks by small groups of Ba'athists and Fedayeen Saddam groups of five to 10 men," he answered. "They do not at the moment appear to be operating under any central command and control. So I do not even yet characterize it or I would not characterize it at this point as an organized resistance."

And as for Saddam Hussein himself, the chief civil administrator says finding and getting him would have an impact on the isolated resistance currently being seen.

"I think the chances of catching Saddam are very high. We will catch him," he said. "I think it is important we do that, that we either capture or kill him. There is no doubt that the fact that we have not been able to show his fate allows these remnants of the Ba'athist regime to go around in the bazaars and in the villages and in towns and say, Saddam will come back and we will come back, so, do not cooperate with the coalition."

At least 22 Americans have been killed by hostile fire since major combat was declared over on May 1.