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Bestial Acts in Fallujah Shouldn't Obscure Iraq Gains

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2004 – The "horrible, bestial" acts of a few people in Fallujah shouldn't obscure the significant gains the coalition has made in Iraq, said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt during a phone interview from Baghdad today.

"It is important to remember that Fallujah is a small part of the country, and the people who did this are just a very, very small part of the population there," said Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Combined Joint Task Force 7.

The general said the vast majority of the Iraqi people have expressed their "outrage and shame" about the mutilation of four American contract employees March 31. "They say it is not representative of the people of Iraq," Kimmitt said.

The coalition will not rush into Fallujah in response to the atrocities. Kimmitt said the coalition will give Fallujans a chance to "turn over the bad elements in their midst." There is no deadline for the city, he said, and indicated that coalition forces will begin operations when it's deemed best from a tactical sense.

Kimmitt said the city of roughly 300,000 still harbors a number of Fedayeen Saddam the former regime's terrorist militia. "We believe some former regime elements were responsible in the planning and execution of the attack," he said. The city was a center of support for Saddam Hussein, and many of the thugs that propped up the regime melted back into Fallujah after the coalition campaign last year, officials said.

The coalition will respond to the murders by "the iron fist in the velvet glove," he said. "For those who want to move toward better Iraq, we are here to help them. For those who choose violence, we will respond."

Kimmitt said the attacks, as bad as they are, shouldn't take away from the progress the coalition has made in the past year. "Millions of people know freedom now," he said. Officials in Baghdad have pointed out that the infrastructure is recovering from Saddam's neglect.

The political process in Iraq is moving toward a return of sovereignty June 30. And the security situation is improving as more Iraqis volunteer to protect their country, officials said.

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Combined Joint Task Force 7

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