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Iraq PM urges start to Baghdad crackdown

By Carolyn E. Price     Feb 6, 2007 in World
Maliki says the delay in starting security operation gives the insurgents more time to kill as many people as they possible can.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has complain today that the long-awaited Baghdad security operation was off to a slow start and is warning the US that insurgents are taking advantage of the delay by killing as many people as possible. However, he has also reassured Iraqi's that security forces will live up to their responsibilities.
PM al-Maliki issued the statement just as new checkpoints were being built and increased vehicle inspections and foot patrols were being conducted in some neighborhoods. These actions are the main evidence so far that US and Iraqi forces were gearing up for a major neighborhood-to-neighborhood sweep to stamp out sectarian violence in this city of 6 million people.
US military today announced the deaths of two more troops, including a soldier who was killed by small arms fire at a security post southwest of Baghdad, and a Marine who died in Anbar province, west of the capital. At least 51 Iraqis were also killed or found dead around the country, including eight slain by two car bombs in Baghdad.
"The operations will unite us and we will take action soon, God willing, even though I believe we've been very late and this delay has started to give a negative message," al-Maliki said in a meeting with military commanders shown on state TV. "I hope that more efforts will be exerted and more speed exerted in carrying out and achieving all the preparations to start the operations."
Al-Maliki urged his commanders to step up efforts to complete the preparations for the security plan, saying the delays had allowed insurgents to step up attacks that have killed hundreds in recent weeks.
"I say again, we have talked much about the operations, and while the Iraqis are waiting and waiting, the terrorists in turn have raised the level of the bombing operations and started killing people in mass numbers," the prime minister told his commanders, urging them to step up efforts to complete the preparations. "Our slogan should be 'rest is prohibited, especially for military men, and day and night should merge in working to achieve victory'. We should carry out the operation in good time and should not delay, because the delay will be used against us by the enemies ... and those who are afraid of them."
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the increase in US forces in Iraq is "not the last chance" to succeed and said that he was considering what steps to take if the buildup fails. "I would be irresponsible if I weren't thinking about what the alternatives might be," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Gates said the operation was to have started Monday. "It's probably going to slip a few days, and it's probably going to be a rolling implementation," he said.
In other violence, Iraqi police found the bullet-riddled bodies of 33 people - 19 in Baghdad - apparent victims of sectarian death squads. The Shiite-led government has said that it will be going after the mainly Shiite militias who are largely to blamed for these types of killings as well as the Sunni insurgents who are suspected to be resposble for most of the bombings, including the suicide attack on a Baghdad food market Saturday that killed at least 137 people.
Al-Maliki, who has seen sectarian violence rise since taking office May 20, 2006, today declared that the Iraqi forces will live up to their responsibilities and told his commanders they must not disappoint those "who stand beside us".
"As far as the security issue is concerned, we should be determined and committed. We should carry out the operation on time and should not delay because the delay will be used against us by our enemies," he added
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