Iraqi police, U.S forces hold largest-ever joint raids; France wants transfer of power to Iraqis by end of 2003
Iraqi security forces, supported by U.S. military police, carried out their largest-ever joint raid on Monday in an effort to arrest those responsible for a wave of deadly attacks against American forces and to break the resistance movement in Saddam Hussein's ancestral hometown.
The overnight raid involved over 200 U.S.-trained Iraqi police and dozens of soldiers from the U.S. Army's 720th Military Police Battalion. The Iraqis were trained by the Military Police, one of the only U.S. military units to patrol the city on a daily basis.
"The people we went after are the trigger-pullers attacking the coalition," said Lt. Col. David Poirier, who commands the 720th, based in Fort Hood, Texas, AP reported. "We want to send the message that if you pull the trigger on the coalition, we will get you."
Although only four people were arrested in simultaneous raids against 15 houses in downtown Tikrit, Poirier described the operation a success because Iraqi police had led the raids.
"We think we are turning the corner with the police. This was completely led by the Iraqis." Poirier said. "We hope this operation has tightened the noose on the bad guys."
"... This operation was designed to break the back of the Fedayeen," Poirier said. "They are off-balance, on the run, they know we are after them and that the Iraqi police are after them."
Meanwhile, France called a U.S. proposal for Iraqis to adopt a constitution in six months "a step forward" but still wants Washington to transfer power to an Iraqi government by the end of 2003.
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin told Europe-1 radio on Sunday that he expects the United States to circulate a new UN resolution in this regard on Tuesday. President Jacques Chirac has said France will not veto it, but de Villepin said Paris' support would depend on whether it provides for "a change in the reality on the ground."
"There's a spiral of violence and terror and everything must be done to stop it," de Villepin said. "The solution lies in a transfer of sovereignty. ... That could take place in a short time - between now and the end of the year."(Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)