A Tough Fight Still Looms, Cheney Warns G.I.'s In Iraq




 
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A Tough Fight Still Looms, Cheney Warns G.I.'s In Iraq
 
May 11th, 2007  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: A Tough Fight Still Looms, Cheney Warns G.I.'s In Iraq


A Tough Fight Still Looms, Cheney Warns G.I.'s In Iraq
New York Times
May 11, 2007
Pg. 18

By Alissa J. Rubin
BAGHDAD, Friday, May 11 — Vice President Dick Cheney spoke Thursday to American troops stationed near Saddam Hussein’s birthplace, Tikrit, telling them in somber tones that they were the front line in the fight against global terrorism and making no promise that an end was in sight.
“We are here, above all, because the terrorists who have declared war on America and other free nations have made Iraq the central front in that war,” his prepared text said.
His assessment was a stark contrast to the one he made two years ago when he declared in an interview on CNN that the insurgency was in its “last throes.”
Mr. Cheney made his visit as the Iraqi High Tribunal heard the closing arguments in the trial of six colleagues of Mr. Hussein who, prosecutors said, planned and ordered attacks during the 1980s that killed as many as 180,000 Kurds in the so-called Anfal military campaign.
Mr. Hussein was one of the defendants in the trial until his execution in January. The remaining defendants, led by Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of Mr. Hussein’s who became known among Iraqis as Chemical Ali for his role in the poison-gas attacks that were central to the campaign, have pleaded not guilty to charges of war crimes and genocide.
Baghdad was relatively quiet on Thursday until nightfall, when a car bomb exploded in the Karada neighborhood as an American convoy passed, an Interior Ministry official said. A second bomb exploded in that neighborhood just after midnight.
The American military also announced Thursday that a marine had died in combat on Wednesday in western Iraq.
The ministry also reported that 20 bodies had been found around the city, and that two people had been killed by mortar fire.
Elsewhere in Iraq, at least 20 people were killed or found dead. Among them were five Iraqi Army soldiers and four police officers.
In a video released Thursday by the Islamic State of Iraq, which is another name for Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, those nine men were shown being shot in execution style by men in black clothes and hoods. The men were abducted in Diyala Province this week, according to the videotape and Diyala police officials.
In the tape, a voice said to belong to the insurgent group’s leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, said the men had been killed because they were apostates, a label often applied by militants to those who aid the government.
In Salahuddin Province, where Mr. Cheney was visiting, there was a mortar attack near Baiji that wounded seven people, and a roadside bomb wounded seven police officers, according to Iraqi officials at the Joint Security Center in Tikrit. Two bodies were also found, an official said.
On this visit to Iraq, Mr. Cheney’s second as vice president, he seemed to want to send the message that the administration realized it was asking a great deal of American soldiers and that it was a brutal fight.
“Extremists from inside and outside the country want to stir an endless cycle of violence, and Al Qaeda is operating and trying to open new fronts,” he said in his speech, to soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division and Task Force Lightning stationed at Camp Speicher.
He cited the comments of Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq, who was traveling with him. “General Petraeus has underscored the fact that the enemy tactics are barbaric,” Mr. Cheney said, according to a report by The Associated Press, which had a reporter at the base. “We can expect more violence as they try to destroy the hopes of the Iraqi people,” he said, still quoting General Petraeus.
Mr. Cheney also acknowledged the discouraging effects of the latest three-month extension for many troops deployed in Iraq. “That puts unexpected hardship on you and your families,” he said. “I want you to know the extension is vital to the mission.”
He also presented medals to 11 soldiers, The A.P. reported.
Mr. Cheney is the highest-ranking Bush administration official to spend the night in Iraq. Extensive security measures were employed, including a news blackout from the end of his public appearance on Wednesday until he spoke to the troops at midday.
People who live in Tikrit were unaware of the vice president’s visit until after he had left, when it became public on television and radio. Camp Speicher, at the site of the former Iraqi Air Force academy, is about seven miles outside the town. It is heavily secured and covers a huge area, making it possible to keep a high-profile visitor all but invisible.
After leaving Tikrit, Mr. Cheney flew to Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, the next stop on his weeklong tour of the Middle East, which will include visits to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.
John F. Burns and Khalid al-Ansary contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Iraqi employees of The New York Times from Diwaniya, Diyala, Salahuddin and Mosul.
 


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