[size=18]Sunday 28th June, 2009
Days of terrorism are over, asserts Iraqi defence minister
IANS Sunday 28th June, 2009
Two days ahead of the June 30 deadline for US troops to leave Iraqi cities and towns, Iraqi Defence Minister Abdel-Qadir al-Ubaidi Sunday struck a defiant tone.
'The days of terrorism are over,' al-Ubaidi said in remarks carried on Iraqi state television. 'I challenge terrorists to attack any police station. We are now the stronger side.'
'We must cooperate and remain unified and defiant in order to uproot terrorism from the country,' the defence minister said.
The Iraqi government says the US military has handed over control of 95 percent of their installations in urban areas to Iraqi forces, and that Iraqi troops will take control of the rest over the coming days.
The Iraqi military says it will meet the US withdrawal with its biggest deployment of troops and policemen in the six years since the US-led invasion of the country.
Some 120,000 additional soldiers and police will be deployed to Baghdad alone, and thousands of others will be deployed to other cities.
In a show of force, Iraqi security forces Sunday arrested 65 suspected insurgents in the predominantly Sunni area of al-Duwaila, some 90 km north of Baghdad, police there told DPA.
The arrests followed two attacks in the area over the past two days. In one case, militants attacked a US military patrol. In the other, they killed an Iraqi civilian by detonating a sticky bomb attached to his car, police said, without elaborating.
US soldiers will continue to patrol the most conflict-ridden districts of the country outside the cities at the invitation of the Iraqi government. A few will remain in Iraqi cities in an advisory capacity, and others will continue to guard Iraq's borders.
Iraq has suffered a wave of attacks ahead of the June 30 deadline.
On Friday, a bomb in a central Baghdad motorcycle market killed at least 19 people and wounded 47 more.
That attack followed a devastating blast in a crowded market in Sadr City that left 74 dead and hundreds more wounded on Wednesday, and a wave of lethal bombings across the capital that left at least 15 people dead and 72 wounded in four attacks Monday.
Al-Ubaidi Sunday called those attacks 'terrorism ... of the most malicious sort,' and 'an attempt by the terrorists to prove that they still exist and are able to operate after the defeat they met in a number of blows from security.'[/size]