There's a new judge in charge at the Saddam Hussein genocide trial, but the change at the top has not altered one constant for the former Iraqi president: plenty of fireworks in the courtroom. The U.S. military is likely to maintain through next spring the current force levels of over 140,000 troops in Iraq. That's according to Gen. John Abizaid, who says the deployments of other units can be extended if necessary. Last year, the Pentagon said it hoped to reduce troop levels to about 100,000 by the end of 2006. Abizaid says rising sectarian violence and the slow progress of the Iraqi government have made that impossible.
Protesting the appointment of the new judge – put in because the previous judge was viewed as too soft on the defense - Saddam's lawyers began the day Wednesday by storming out of the court, and then the former Iraqi president himself got thrown out – by the judge.
The courtroom drama unfolded as dozens of Iraqis again found themselves in harm's way, with a fresh crop of bombs.
Tuesday night, at least 21 people were killed and another 50 wounded when a suicide bomber in a parked car near an Iraqi army base in the city of Sharqat Tuesday night detonated his explosives as a crowd gathered at the scene.
Wednesday morning, seven policemen were killed and another six people, including a civilian, were injured when a suicide truck bomb slammed into a police headquarters building in the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad.
In other recent developments:
President Bush, in New York for the U.N. General Assembly meeting, told Iraqi President Jalal Talabani that the U.S. will keep soldiers in Iraq as long as necessary. "I've told the president of Iraq that America has given her word to help you, and we will keep our word. The people of Iraq must know that," said Mr. Bush.
Tuesday, the U.S. military said four more soldiers were killed in Iraq. At least one was killed by a suicide car bombing in the northern part of the country.
A rocket attack on a Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad Tuesday afternoon killed 10 people and wounded 19. Five rockets landed on homes in the Abu Tesher neighborhood in the predominantly Sunni Arab Dora district, said a captain with the Dora police.
Tribes in one of Iraq's most volatile provinces have joined together to fight the insurgency in their region, and have called on the government and the U.S.-led military coalition for weapons, a prominent tribal leader said Monday.
Three Iraqi army soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb that targeted their patrol in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of the capital. A gunman on a motorcycle killed a woman and a group attacked a family in their home, killing two brothers.
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