Iraqi PM announces new defence strategy
* Establishes elite military units to combat insurgency
* Security officials to report directly to Allawi
BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announced on Sunday that all the country’s security officials would report to him in an effort to control a wave of violence ahead of the transfer of power on June 30.
He also announced the formation of elite military units to combat insurgent groups operating in the country.
“I have directed that the immediate priority is to establish an effective Iraqi command and control system to integrate all these forces while I will have ultimate responsibility for national security,” Allawi told a news conference.
“The Iraqi military will report to me through the armed forces chief of staff and the ministry of defence. The police and other security forces will be responsible to me through the minister of interior and other respective ministries.
“Our capabilities will enable us to take necessary action against forces of evil and I have laid the foundation for creating a national directorate for internal security.”
Allawi said the top priority was setting up a specialised force to fight the insurgents.
“Our top priority for training and equipping will be those specialised forces that can strike terrorists and insurgents before they have opportunities to harm innocent people.” Meanwhile, Allawi defended a US air strike that killed 22 people in Fallujah, but Iraqi officers in the town said the dead included women and children rather than foreign Muslim militants.
“We know that a house which had been used by terrorists had been hit. We welcome this hit on terrorists anywhere in Iraq,” interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told a news conference.
He said the US military had informed the government before carrying out Saturday’s air strike on what it said was a safe house used by militants led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian described by the Americans as Al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq.
However, Fallujah’s police chief and a senior officer in the Fallujah Brigade in charge of security in the fiercely anti-US town denied that foreign fighters had operated from the house.
“We inspected the damage, we looked through the bodies of the women and children and elderly. This was a family,” Brigadier Nouri Aboud of the Falluja Brigade told Reuters.
“There is no sign of foreigners having lived in the house. Zarqawi and his men have no presence in Falluja.”
The US military allowed the Fallujah Brigade, led by former Iraqi army officers, to take over security in the town under a truce last month that ended battles between US Marines and insurgents in which hundreds of people were killed.
The raid shattered a lull in Fallujah and fuelled tensions before the formal end of Iraq’s US-led occupation on June 30.
Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said in Baghdad the house was being used by fighters loyal to Zarqawi, accused by Washington of leading a bloody campaign of suicide bombings and of decapitating a US hostage last month.
The Iraqi government says foreign militants are involved in sabotage that last week brought vital oil exports to a halt. agencies