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Bush: Regime Holdouts Targeting Successes in Iraq

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2003 – President Bush today urged nations around the world to contribute "militarily and financially" toward building a free and secure Iraq.

Nineteen nations are providing a total of 13,000 troops to stability efforts, and more than two dozen nations have provided funds, the president noted while flanked by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, and Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, during a White House press briefing.

Still, much work remains in securing the country and moving it along toward prosperity. In Baghdad today, Army Lt. Gen Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of ground troops in Iraq, detailed the current security situation. He noted a Red Cross vehicle was attacked north of Al Hillah July 22, killing one aid worker and wounding another. Three American soldiers have also been killed in the past two days.

Bush blamed the attacks on holdouts from Hussein's regime. "But America's military forces are on the offensive," he added.

"A few remaining holdouts are trying to prevent the advance of order and freedom," Bush said. "They're killing new police graduates. They're shooting at people guarding the universities, power plants and oil facilities. These killers are the enemies of Iraq's people."

The president noted that coalition military forces are working with "the newly free Iraqi people" to destroy remnants of the former Baathist government "and their terrorist allies."

In the past 48 hours, American forces have conducted more than 4,300 patrols and 48 raids, including the one that killed Hussein's sons Qusay and Uday, Sanchez said in Baghdad.

He also summarized some high points of operations in Iraq to date. "Upon our arrival in Baghdad in late April, we found that most institutions and governing structures had disappeared along with the regime and the Iraqi army," the general said. "It is truly amazing how far we have traveled together with the Iraqi people in just over 100 days since the start of the conflict."

  • Governing structures have been re-established at the neighborhood, city, province and national levels. Bush noted that members of Iraq's new governing council met with members of the U.N. Security Council July 22.
  • Nearly 24,000 Iraqi police are back at work; more than 8,700 private guards have been hired and are at work protecting critical facilities; and more than 800 border guards are back on the job.
  • Iraqi courts are functioning and prosecuting misdemeanors.
  • Electricity "is on the verge" of reaching the pre-war levels.
  • Oil exports have begun, and oil production has reached the 1 million-barrels-per-day mark.

"So am I optimistic about the future of Iraq? You're absolutely right," Sanchez said. "I've said before that even without all the progress, even if we were living in darkness, just the mere fact that the Iraqi people are free of the terror imposed by the Saddam Hussein regime is enough for all of us to be hopeful for the future."

Bush echoed Sanchez's optimism. "In the 83 days since I announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq, we have made progress, steady progress, in restoring hope in a nation beaten down by decades of tyranny," he said.

The president also praised "coalition forces serving under difficult circumstances."

"Our nation will give those who wear its uniform all the tools and support they need to complete their mission," he said. "We are eternally grateful for the bravery of our troops, for their sacrifice and for the sacrifices of their families.

"The families of our servicemen and women can take comfort in knowing that their sons and daughters and moms and dads are serving a cause that is noble and just and vital to the security of the United States."

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