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Despite Insurgent Efforts, Progress on Iraqi Constitution Continues

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2005 – Insurgents continued their attempts to derail the democratic process and discredit the Iraqi government this week, a spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq said during a briefing from Baghdad, Iraq, today.

"They continue to target the innocent men, women and children of Iraq with horrific acts of violence," Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said. "Insurgents conducted a complex attack (Aug. 24) against civilians and Iraqi police officers, resulting in the unfortunate death 13 police officers and 27 innocent civilians."

Insurgents entered a home in western Iraq, killed the five occupants, and then blew up the home, Lynch said. Within an hour of that incident and less than a kilometer away, a series of suicide car bombs were detonated, causing damage and the deaths of Iraqi police officers, civilians and one U.S. servicemember. No further information about the U.S. servicemember killed was available.

Insurgents are also striking at Iraqis through the disruption of basic services, Lynch said.

An electrical tower holding two 400-kilovolt transmission lines was brought down by insurgents this week, he said. A short time later, another 400-kilovolt line was cut in another attack.

"These acts, coupled with the aging infrastructure of the electrical system, resulted in massive power failure, as many power plants around the country were not able to adjust to the power surge that resulted," Lynch said. "However, in both cases, the minister of electricity reacted quickly and dispatched assessment teams, followed shortly by repair crews to restore service as fast as possible. The Ministry of Electricity was able to restart many of the shutdown power plants in an efficient, methodical manner by rerouting hydroelectric power from nearby dams."

Local generators provided power for critical services, which helped ensure the constitutional drafting process in Baghdad was not affected. The ministry was also able to reroute power from provinces in the southern part of the country and to import power from neighboring countries. Overall, Lynch said, it was an "impressive display of professionalism and ingenuity" by the Ministry of Electricity.

"It is important to remember that shortages of electricity in Iraq are not only caused by terrorist acts," Lynch said. "They're also the result of an aging infrastructure that is the result of 30 years of neglect and increased demand for electricity across Iraq and a shortage of fuels required to run the generators."

Lynch indicated that all of these issues are being addressed and progress is being made to restore essential services to the people of Iraq.

Progress continues in other areas as well, he said, citing the graduation of more Iraqi security forces.

"This week 3,500 members of the Iraqi security force have graduated from training programs across the country," he said. "This brings the combined strength of the Iraqi army and police forces to almost 184,000 individuals. An additional 11,000 trainees are still enrolled in service academies nationwide."

Additionally, Iraqi security forces are training future Iraqi security force members at some facilities. The Irbil Regional Police Academy is run entirely by the Iraqi police, he said. And Iraqi officers and noncommissioned officers of the first Iraqi field engineer regiment are teaching new soldiers engineering skills at their training base in Taji.

One hundred percent of brigade-level operations this week were combined coalition and Iraqi security force operations, and Iraqi forces continue to show improved combat capabilities, Lynch said.

Those improved operational capabilities led to the capture this week of nine insurgents, including a cell leader and six associates in Mosul. One of the detainees is a Jordanian national with an Iraqi passport who had a video of local nationals being executed.

In Baghdad, Iraqi police discovered 32 mortar rounds buried between two houses. The rounds were transported to a local police station.

Elsewhere in Iraq, police searched an ice truck and found 20 rockets hidden beneath the ice. Iraqi security force reports indicated the rockets were intended to be used in an attack against the government, Lynch said.

This progress with Iraqi security, combined with the political progress made this week, puts Iraq on the right path, he said.

"We've always said that there are two critical paths to the accomplishment of ... an Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, that has a representative government that respects the human rights of all Iraqis and a security force that can maintain order and deny Iraq as a safe haven for terrorists," Lynch said. "Those two paths are the continued political process and development of a capable Iraqi security force."

Plans to continue the political progress are in place as the constitutional referendum in October approaches, he explained. Drafts of the constitution will be distributed, and conferences and public debates will be encouraged.

"(The Aug. 22) submission of a draft constitution to the Transitional National Assembly was an important step forward in the democratic process and the effort to build a new Iraq," Lynch said. "Iraqi leadership continues to work with all the political factions of the country in an effort to build a document that truly represents all of Iraq and the best interests of its citizens. When the constitution is submitted to the people of Iraq for their consideration, the choice of democracy and freedom will rest firmly in their hands."

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