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Iraqis, U.S. Hail Vote As Insurgent Defeat

1 February 2005 -- The interim Iraqi government and the United States say Iraq's national elections have marked a major defeat for insurgents.

But militants have denounced the vote and vowed to pursue their "jihad" against U.S.-led forces and Iraqis who work with them.

Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said the 30 January vote showed that "terrorists" cannot win in Iraq.

Allawi acknowledged that insurgent violence was not likely to end soon, but called on all Iraqis, whether they voted or not, to now unite to build Iraq's future.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the election marked a defeat for terrorists and their ideology. He said the United States was now focusing on training Iraqi forces to defend the country.

"We must continue to do everything we can to support them [Iraqis] moving forward. That means completing the mission. And the mission is to help put Iraq on a path to a democratic future, and make sure that they have the security forces to defend themselves and to defeat the terrorists themselves," McClellan said.

In an Internet statement, the group of Al-Qaeda ally Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi denounced the elections as an "American game" and said the group would continue its jihad until the banner of Islam flutters over Iraq.

In violence yesterday, the U.S. military said guards shot dead four detainees during a riot at a U.S.-run prison at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq, and three U.S. Marines were reported killed south of Baghdad.