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Bremer: 'We Will Prevail' Against Pro-Saddam Insurgents

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2003 – Despite repeated hit and run assaults on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq by "bitter- ender" Saddam supporters, security and reconstruction efforts in that country continue forward, the senior U.S. administrator in Iraq said July 20.

L. Paul Bremer reiterated on the CBS "Face the Nation" and NBC "Meet the Press" Sunday talk shows that security and reconstruction efforts in Iraq are on track. And he announced earlier in the day on "Fox News Sunday" about the creation of a new Iraqi civil defense force to assist U.S.- coalition forces in rounding up Saddam loyalists.

Bremer was in town to consult with senior U.S. officials to include President Bush on the situation in Iraq.

The majority of attacks on U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq, Bremer noted, are occurring in traditional Saddam strongholds north and west of Baghdad that were left relatively intact because of the April 9 fall of Baghdad and the concurrent flight of the dictator's regime.

More than 35 U.S. troops have been killed in such assaults since President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in the country May 1.

However, most of Iraq today is at peace, Bremer asserted on "Face the Nation," noting, "we're facing a small group of 'bitter-enders.'"

"We have an ongoing problem of security in a very small part of the country," he acknowledged, noting U.S. and coalition forces have liberated a nation of 25 million from the tyranny of a despotic regime.

Saddam loyalists who are attacking U.S. and coalition forces, Bremer noted, "are trying to turn (back) the tide of history."

"We have thrown out Saddam. And Saddam dead or alive is finished in Iraq," he emphasized.

"We will prevail against these professional killers," Bremer pledged, adding, "they are in a small area of the country - that's the place where the unrest is -- and we'll deal with it."

Commenting on recent demonstrations against the Iraqi interim government, he said "the fact of the matter is, in all the polls I've seen, the vast majority of the Iraqis prefer to be free and are pleased that the coalition freed them."

Bremer noted that establishing the Iraqi militia will bolster the country's security, in addition to a new national army and a 65,000-member police force. He also mentioned the formation of an Iraqi border guard force.

"We're going to be making more use of the Iraqis as we go along," he asserted.

Attacks on U.S.-coalition forces in Iraq represent "assaults on our successes," Bremer maintained, noting that a new national Iraqi currency and a budget have been established in the past two weeks. And he stated that work is rapidly proceeding in re-establishing Iraqi power, electricity and water facilities to pre-war levels.

U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq "will continue to go after" pro-Saddam insurgents, Bremer added. In fact, he noted, about 800 suspected Saddam supporters have been rounded up in recent days.

The Iraqi militia, which he also termed as a civil defense force, will be employed at selected sites and on convoy and route security missions, he said on "Meet the Press." This will "free some of our soldiers to go out and be still more aggressive."

The length of stay for U.S. and coalition forces is predicated on how quickly the Iraqis can write a new constitution and hold free, democratic elections, Bremer noted.

In the meantime, he said, the U.S. and its coalition partners are participating in a truly international effort to put Iraq back on its feet as a peaceful, democratic nation. Currently, the U.S. has about 148,000 troops in Iraq augmented by about 13,000 coalition forces.

Bremer observed that while 12 different nations now have military forces on the ground in Iraq, the United States is "the world's great power right now." With that power comes "great responsibility," he maintained.

"We have the fundamental responsibility now for winning the peace in Iraq, and we're going to do that," he concluded.

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