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U.S. Faces 'Revenge' In Iraq

The commander of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq said in an interview published Wednesday that U.S. forces, already under pressure from a guerrilla-style resistance, now face revenge attacks from ordinary Iraqis angered by the occupation.

North of Baghdad, there were at least three separate attacks on U.S. forces with roadside bombs in less than 1½ hours Wednesday morning. Witnesses reported injured soldiers, but details were unclear. The attacks hit U.S. Humvees about 12 miles north of Baghdad near al-Taji.

Sanchez's remarks came after the friendly fire killing late last week of eight Iraqi policemen by American soldiers near Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad. The military and the U.S. administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, have apologized.

In other developments:

  • Former United Nations chief weapons inspector Hans Blix believes that Iraq destroyed most of its weapons of mass destruction 10 years ago, but kept up the appearance that it had nuclear arms to deter a military attack. He tells an Australian radio station, he doubts coalition inspectors will find anything more than documents.
  • A gunbattle this week involving U.S. soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division killed two Iraqis and wounded two others. The skirmish was outside a munitions dump in Tikrit. Another man was captured and two others fled after trying to loot the depot.
  • Government officials say the leaders of Germany, France and Britain will meet in Berlin this weekend to try to smooth rifts over the Iraq war. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will host the talks with French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair at his offices on Saturday. The Washington Post reports a deal may be close on a new U.N. resolution for post-Saddam Iraq.
  • Democrats are stepping up criticism of Vice President Dick Cheney's former connection with Halliburton, a government contractor in Iraq that is receiving growing work to restore that country's oil industry. Cheney still receives deferred compensation from the firm, but denies having any "financial interest" in it.
  • Some House Democrats — at least one of whom strongly supported the war — are calling on President Bush to fire the advisers who helped form U.S. policy in Iraq.
  • A senior Bush administration official says Syria is allowing militants to cross its border into Iraq to kill U.S. soldiers and is aggressively seeking to acquire and develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

    While U.S. forces increasingly patrol Iraqi hotspots with American-trained local militiamen, citizens voice growing anger with tactics that are seen as heavy-handed and insensitive to Iraqi social and religious customs.

    "We have seen that when we have an incident in the conduct of our operations, when we killed an innocent civilian, based on their ethic, their values, their culture, they would seek revenge," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez was quoted as telling The Times newspaper in London.

    Coalition forces were seeking "to ensure that when a mistake has been made and when we have inadvertently wound up killing someone that we go and do the right thing culturally to take care of those families." The Times' report did not elaborate on those steps.

    Six people claiming to be Americans and two who say they are British are in U.S. custody on suspicion of involvement in attacks on coalition forces, an American general said Tuesday. They would be the first Westerners reported held in the insurrection against the U.S.-led occupation.

    Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who is in charge of coalition detention centers in Iraq, said they were considered security detainees, meaning they were suspected of involvement in guerrilla attacks. She did not identify them but said they were being interrogated by military intelligence in Baghdad.

    "We actually do have six who are claiming to be Americans, two who are claiming to be from the U.K. We're continuing the interviewing process. The details become sketchy and their story changes," Karpinski said Tuesday.

    If Westerners are actively involved in the resistance, it would deepen confusion about what groups are involved. Initially, the guerrilla fighters were thought to be Saddam loyalists, but in recent weeks U.S. officials have said they are being joined by foreign fighters, possibly al Qaeda members.

    The Bush administration's claims of ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and al Qaeda terrorists are being tested in federal court, where the family of the FBI's late counterterrorism chief has sued Iraq over the Sept. 11 hijackings. The suit accuses Iraq of complicity in the attacks by providing support to terrorists.

    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he has no reason to link Saddam Hussein to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

    National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice says one of the reasons President Bush went to war against Saddam was because he posed a threat in "a region from which the Sept. 11 threat emerged," but she told ABC: "We have never claimed that Saddam Hussein had either direction or control of 9-11."

    The vice president said Sunday that Iraq was "the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault for many years, but most especially on 9-11."