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Iraq: Blair Says Security Situation Is 'Serious'

London, 4 September 2003 (RFE/RL) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair today said the situation in Iraq has deteriorated in recent weeks and is "serious." Speaking to reporters today in London, Blair said a recent wave of attacks in Iraq was the work of what he called a "small number" of Hussein loyalists and an increasing number of outside terrorist groups.

"Why are they trying to stop us? Why are these terrorist groups coming into Iraq at the moment? Because they know perfectly well that if we succeed in putting Iraq on its feet as a stable, prosperous, and democratic country, then what a huge advertisement that is for the values of democracy and human rights and what a huge defeat it is for these terrorists who want to establish extremist states," Blair said.

Blair's government has come under pressure to increase the number of troops in Iraq. Earlier today, U.K. Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon ordered a review of British troop levels.

Blair said no decision had been made to increase the number of British troops in Iraq from the current number of around 11,000.

"The position on [British] troops [in Iraq] is that we keep it constantly under review. But unless there is a recommendation that comes forward from our military commanders that they require more troops we don't provide them," Blair said.

The prime minister stressed 25 different nations are now signed up to provide troops in Iraq.