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Insurgents Focusing on 'Despicable' Attacks Against Iraqis

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2003 – The coalition's intensified offensive operations in Iraq have reduced attacks on American forces by about 50 percent during the past two weeks, but as a result, desperate Saddam Hussein loyalists have turned their aggression toward innocent Iraqis, officials told reporters in Baghdad today.

U.S. Army Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, said these "despicable terrorist attacks," many against women and children, "are designed only to terrorize people and intimidate them in a way that absolutely cannot be excused."

He blamed the attacks on cells operating primarily in urban areas, noting that there is "some indication of regional coordination between the cells." These forces, he said, have "no vision for the future" except a government that kills, intimidates and imposes fear on the people, and who are desperate to return to power.

"We won't let that happen," Abizaid said. "A combination of Iraqi security forces and coalition security forces will relentlessly go after the enemies of the Iraqi people, find them, engage them, and bring them to justice."

Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, administrator for the Coalition Provisional Authority, called the recent spate of attacks on Iraqi police, security forces and civilians "a repugnant but not unexpected tactic."

"The former regime loyalists and jihadists have always pursued a policy of intimidation," he said. "They have failed to intimidate the coalition, so they have now begun a pattern of terrorizing innocent Iraqis in an effort to drive them away from the goal they share with the coalition: a democratic and peaceful Iraq.

"They will not succeed," Bremer said. "The coalition's revolve is unshaken."

Bremer said President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair "could not have been more clear" about their continued support for operations in Iraq during their recent meetings in London. And the Nov. 12 terrorist attack on the Italian military headquarters in Nasiriyah, Iraq, "has increased the resolve of the Italian government," he said.

The Iraqi people, too, are playing an increasing role in their move toward security and, ultimately, sovereignty, Bremer said. "All across the country, Iraqis are coming forward to take part in the defense of their country," he said. "Throughout the country, Iraqis are leading the coalition to the evildoers and their weapons caches."

"Why?" Abizaid asked rhetorically. "Because they can't stand the attacks and the oppression and the intimidation by the former regime members who are trying to come back to power."

Bremer acknowledged that these terrorist attacks are likely to continue in the months ahead, particularly as the coalition and interim Iraqi government reach important benchmarks in Iraq's move toward sovereignty.

"It is clear that the terrorists are, among other things, anti-democratic," he said. "And we should expect that as the process of democracy moves forward over the next six to seven months, they may try to attack the institutions of democracy."

Bremer said those launching these attacks "do not share the vision of most Iraqis" for a democratic Iraq and are trying to seize power for themselves. "And we are not going to let that happen," he stated.

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