Iraqi PM Asks World For Help

CAROUSEL_In this image provided by TVN a crushed car can be seen in a parking garage in Concepcion Chile following the earthquake early Saturday morning Feb. 27, 2010. (AP Photo/TVN via APTN)
CBS
Faced with mounting violence, interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi appealed Sunday for international help for his beleaguered forces and said that the government was considering "emergency law" in certain, unspecified regions to bring the situation under control.

Such measures could apply to the restive Sunni stronghold of Fallujah, where an American airstrike on Saturday hit a house that U.S. officials said was a suspected safehouse of Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's network. At least 16 people were killed in the strike.

A senior officer of the U.S.-backed Fallujah Brigade said Sunday that rescue operations uncovered no trace of foreigners in the house — but did find the belongings of women and children.

The Iraqis need better equipment and support to fight back, Allawi said, as he appealed for assistance until Iraqi forces "are fully capable."

"We will continue to need support from our friends," Allawi told reporters in Baghdad.

France and Germany came under strong criticism Sunday by senators who say more international help, including the support of NATO, will be needed to provide security in Iraq after the transfer of political control at month's end.

"If we don't hand over the capacity for this sovereign government to be secure within its own borders and to be at peace with itself, then we're going to inherit a circumstance in Iraq that is equally as dangerous to us" as having ousted President Saddam Hussein in power, said Sen. Joseph Biden, a Democrat. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Sen. Lindsey Graham, both Republicans, made similar comments on the Sunday morning talk shows.

Allawi announced the creation of a ministerial-level committee for national security including among others the ministers of defense, interior, foreign, justice, and finance. He also announced establishment of a Center for Joint Operations "to control all activities related to national security."

Interior Minister Falah Hassan al-Naqib told The Associated Press that the government was also considering an amnesty for insurgents who were not personally involved in killings.

Allawi's comments at a news conference came amid a surge of bloody attacks that have increased as the June 30 handover date draws near.

Many of the attacks have targeted police and other security services, who have been slowly taking over security tasks in the weeks before the transfer of sovereignty. One of the most vicious attacks occurred Thursday, when a car bomb exploded outside a military recruitment station, killing 35 and wounding 145.

Most of the victims were poor Iraqis desperate to take dangerous jobs in the Iraqi security forces because of poor employment opportunities in a country with up to 45 percent unemployment. More than 300 people have been killed in attacks on police stations and recruitment centers since September.

Al-Zarqawi is believed to be behind some of the most devastating attacks. The U.S. military launched Saturday's airstrike in Fallujah after intelligence suggested it was being used as an al-Zarqawi safehouse, U.S. officials said.

However, a senior leader in the U.S.-allied Fallujah Brigade, Col. Mohammed Awad, said his troops "affirmed to us that the inhabitants of the houses were ordinary families including women, children and elders."

"Some of our soldiers who participated in the rescue operation after the attack said they saw the remains of bodies apparently belonging to women and children," Awad said. "Through our inspection in the ruins, we could see clothes and stuff of women and children. There was no sign that foreigners have lived in the house."

The difference in U.S. and Iraqi assessments of the attack could strain relations between the Americans and the Iraqi security force established last month to take responsibility for law and order in Fallujah after the end of the three-week Marine siege.

Allawi is defending the attack, reports CBS News Correspondent Charles D'Agata.

"We know that a house that was used by terrorists had been hurt, and we welcome this hurt on terrorists in Iraq," he says.

He said the Iraqi government had no say in the attack, and was informed of the airstrike shortly before it happened, adding that "This pattern will change once sovereignty is transferred."

In other violence, a roadside bomb exploded Sunday along a highway leading to Baghdad's airport, killing two Iraqi soldiers and wounding 11 others — four critically.

U.S. forces clashed Sunday with insurgents in Samarra for a third straight day. Iraqi police and hospital officials said 10 Iraqis had been killed and 12 wounded. U.S. 1st Infantry Division spokesman Maj. Neal O'Brien said U.S. helicopters killed at least four insurgents there Sunday. It was unclear if they were among the deaths reported by the Iraqis.

Elsewhere, the U.S. military said a Marine was killed in action Saturday in Anbar province, which includes Ramadi and Fallujah. A mortar round also injured six police officers and four Iraqis in a separate attack Sunday near the Iraqi central bank in the heart of Baghdad.

In southern Iraq, oil flowed to a port Sunday after crews completed key repairs on a pipeline sabotaged last week by insurgents, an official of the state-run Southern Oil Company said. It was unclear whether exports had yet resumed.

U.S. soldiers accompanying the Iraqis on the dicey airport road said the attackers waited for the Americans to pass and then set off the blast as Iraqi forces drove by.

American troops took the Iraqi wounded to a U.S. aid station for treatment. As they waited for news on the wounded, Iraqi soldiers wept and U.S. comrades hugged them.

"The hardcore terrorists don't care who they kill," said Lt. Col. Tim Ryan, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment. "These guys are bigger targets than we are now."

Insurgents have hammered Iraqi police and civil defense troops to undermine confidence in the interim government before the June 30 handover of power.