No Part of Iraq Under Regime Control, Franks Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 13, 2003 There are no towns under Iraqi regime control now, Army Gen. Tommy Franks said on Fox News Sunday today.
Saddam Hussein's regime cannot exercise control over any portion of the country, the U.S. Central Command commander said, but this does not mean the fighting has ended.
Franks also appeared on CNN's "Late Edition," where he said he is not ready to declare victory, even though the Iraqi regime is destroyed. "We believe that there are a number of military objectives in this country," he said. "One of them for sure is to remove the regime. And we believe this regime is no longer in charge. In fact, it is an ex- regime."
The United States still must find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, root out terrorist cells and then move to an "end state" where the Iraqi people choose their government, Franks said.
He noted that coalition forces, in their rush to Baghdad, had bypassed a number of villages and cities. Coalition forces will now go into those towns and cities, and there may be fighting by "dead-enders."
"Resistance is spotty," Franks said. "We have had our people in a number of places where they have had a hell of a fight. We have had our people go to other places where we were ready for a huge fight and been greeted by people saying all the regular army people have left."
Franks said there will be more fighting in the capital. He told Fox interviewer Tony Snow that Baghdad has been divided into 55 or 60 block zones, and that coalition forces can expect fighting in 10 to 15 of them. He said coalition forces had "a heck of a fight" around a mosque in eastern Baghdad.
The general said in some cases these fighters are members of the Iraqi Special Republican Guard and the Fedayeen Saddam. And there have been foreign fighters Syrians being the largest nationality represented among them.
He remarked that coalition forces have stopped people from coming into Iraq. "In some cases we have taken them as enemy prisoners of war, and in other cases we have sent them back on their way," he said.
The general would not comment specifically about Syria but did say, "I believe that any nation that wants to control its borders can do so."
Franks admitted there are between 2,000 and 3,000 possible sites in Iraq where the regime may have weapons of mass destruction. He said he firmly believes CENTCOM will find weapons of mass destruction and that no weapons materials left Iraq, although individuals may have been able to escape the country.
The general said that village and city officials in some places are working with coalition forces to help restore their areas. For example, the Iraqis are helping coalition forces identify the Saddam Hussein loyalists, and they are working to establish safety patrols. They are also working with civil affairs experts to fix electricity, water and sewage systems.
These actions are coming about now because the Iraqis finally believe Saddam Hussein is gone. "It is obvious to us, that it is obvious to them that Saddam Hussein can no longer harm them," Franks said. He does not know if Saddam is alive or dead, but said the coalition has samples of Hussein's DNA and the correct experts will track down every lead.
Franks observed that statues falling in Baghdad vindicated his view that the Iraqis lived under the yoke of an oppressive regime and that they would welcome liberation. He said now the Iraqi people are free to build a new government and to take advantage of the tremendous wealth that Saddam Hussein horded to himself and his henchmen.
Franks said that the looting in Iraq didn't surprise him. "The measure of merit for us is how quickly is this lawlessness the looting and such is controlled," he said. "And I don't believe a period of two, three, five days is a sufficient period of time to criticize ourselves.
"The plan is working just fine and we're remaining on the plan," he declared.
Franks pointed out the lesson nations that sponsor terrorism should take from the campaign against Hussein: The United States and the coalition are resolute in defeating terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. "If I were looking for a lesson to take away, it would be 'Whoa, these people are really resolute in this matter,'" he said.
Franks plans on going to Baghdad soon to speak with his "band of brothers" the land, sea, special operations and air component commanders and to assess the needs in the city and country.