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U.S. Defense Chief Says Iraq Militants Still Effective


http://gdb.rferl.org/695FBB9F-4DD0-4686-AACE-4C1A87E9FD13_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/695FBB9F-4DD0-4686-AACE-4C1A87E9FD13_mw800_mh600.jpg U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld (file photo) 21 July 2005 -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday that a new Pentagon assessment has concluded that militants remain effective and intent on carrying out attacks targeting Iraqi officials and civilians.

Rumsfeld yesterday previewed an overdue report on conditions in Iraq that he said would be submitted to Congress in full by tomorrow at the latest.

Rumsfeld also told reporters in Washington that Syria and Iran remain "notably unhelpful" in assisting to secure Iraq's borders to prevent foreigners from coming in to launch attacks.

"Though they have suffered numerous setbacks, terrorists in Iraq remain effective, adaptable, and intent on carrying out attacks against Iraqi civilians and Iraqi officials," Rumsfeld said. "Extremists continue to try to foment tension, ethnic strife, and indeed even civil war between Sunnis and Shias, through murders and attacks on religious sites. Countries such as Syria and Iran remain notably unhelpful in assisting Iraq in securing its borders from foreign invaders."

Rumsfeld lamented the recent killings of several Iraqi Sunni Arabs who had been working with the committee that has been drafting Iraq's constitution, saying the violence underscores the nature of the fight against extremists in Iraq.

Rumsfeld added that Iraq's planned elections to ratify the constitution and for a new national assembly remain on schedule, and said that recent polls show rising confidence in the future among Iraqis.

(AFP/Reuters)
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