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Iraq interim government likely won't oust troops
Updated: 2004-05-17 11:58

Iraq's interim government, slated to take charge in 45 says, will have the authority to order coalition troops to leave, but a member of the Iraqi Governing Council said Sunday it is unlikely to do so.

"Until we have the means and we have enough Iraqi forces to confront the danger of the al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, I think we'll probably be needing external help," Adnan Pachachi said.

After the handover of sovereignty, the multinational force will be in the country "with the approval of the Iraqi government, and anything it does has to be done in consultation with the Iraqi government and with its approval," Pachachi told CNN's "Late Edition."

Secretary of State Colin Powell raised eyebrows last week when when he said troops from the U.S.-led coalition would leave Iraq after the handover if the new interim government made that request. But he also said he believed such an order was unlikely.

Pachachi said murder charges against al-Sadr may be "postponed" as part of a deal to defuse a standoff between coalition forces and al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia.

"My understanding is there are some efforts being made still to defuse the crisis and try to let Muqtada al-Sadr dismantle his Mehdi Army and perhaps also surrender its weapons," Pachachi said.

"It's quite possible, also, that the legal proceedings against him may be postponed for a while if he complies with the other conditions. This is what I heard."

Coalition troops fighting the Mehdi militia in the Baghdad area, near Amarah and in Karbala have killed 41 insurgents over the past 36 hours, coalition officials said. Clashes with the militia in those cities have been going on five days.

Early Sunday, a rocket aimed at a Basra hotel housing the British military missed its target and struck a nearby house, killing three Iraqi civilians inside, according to an Iraqi police official in the southern Iraq city.

In the northern city of Mosul, a mortar or a rocket-propelled grenade struck a line of Iraqi civilians lined up outside an army recruitment center, killing four recruits and wounding 15 others.

Coalition officials have predicted an increase in insurgent attacks as the June 30 sovereignty handover approaches.

Other developments

The Arabic news network Al Jazeera aired pictures Sunday of what it said were two Russian electrical workers taken hostage by an Islamic group last week in Dura, south of Baghdad. A statement from a group calling itself Jaish al-Tifa al-Mansoura, the Army of the Victorious Sect, said it was holding the men.

An uncle of Nafaj's newly installed governor was shot dead Sunday inside his home, coalition and Iraqi officials told CNN. The incident took place in Kufa, just outside Najaf, an adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority said in Baghdad. Sources close to Najaf Gov. Adnan al-Zurufi said the killers knocked on the uncle's door and when he answered shot him three times. His wife witnessed the attack, they said, but was not harmed.

The Abu Ghraib prison scandal was not the result of a few misguided soldiers, but of a decision last year by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to expand a clandestine operation against al Qaeda to the treatment of prisoners in Iraq, according to a report in The New Yorker. Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita sharply rejected the author's conclusions, calling the assertions "outlandish, conspiratorial, and filled with error and anonymous conjecture."

The Arab world should be showing "a higher level of outrage" over the death of Nicholas Berg, an American businessman whose beheading was posted on an Islamist Web site last week, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday.

Italy has asked the United States to halt major assaults against Iraqi holy cities and mete out tough punishment on soldiers found guilty of torture, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Sunday.

U.S. troops have taken over operations at the Spanish military base in south-central Iraq, allowing Madrid's forces to prepare their withdrawal from the country, Spain's Defense Ministry said Sunday.

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