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Bush tells vets: 'No retreat' in Iraq fight

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 27, 2003

ST. LOUIS - Responding to the mounting death toll in Iraq, President Bush on Tuesday sought to redefine the conflict as a pivotal contest between civilization and chaos, and vowed, "There will be no retreat."

Defending his handling of the war before an audience of military veterans, Bush cast the struggle in postwar Iraq as a key test of America's ability to defeat terrorism and as a bellwether for democracy in the Middle East. Although the president's remarks raised the prospect of deeper U.S. involvement in Iraq, he didn't say whether he thinks more troops are needed to restore order.

"Our course is set. Our purpose is firm," Bush told several thousand veterans at the American Legion's annual convention in St. Louis. "Our only goal, our only option, is total victory in the war on terror."

Bush said the stakes have increased since the fall of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein because Iraq "is now a point of testing in the war on terrorism." Islamic militants from throughout the Middle East have been making their way to Iraq to undermine American efforts to stabilize and rebuild the country.

"The more progress we make in Iraq, the more desperate the terrorists will become. They have declared war on the civilized world, and the civilized world will not be intimidated," Bush said. "Retreat in the face of terror would only invite further and bolder attacks."

U.S. forces launch raids; two more soldiers die

KHALIS, Iraq - Hundreds of U.S. forces launched a series of raids Tuesday, capturing at least 24 bandits, gangsters and Saddam Hussein loyalists.

The Iraqi criminals were swept up near Baqouba, 42 miles north of Baghdad, in "Operation Ivy Needle," a campaign launched by the 4th Infantry Division.

Meanwhile, the number of American troops killed in postwar Iraq surpassed the toll of those killed in major combat, reaching 140 with the deaths of a soldier in a roadside bombing and another in a traffic accident.

One of the soldiers killed Tuesday was riding in a support convoy hit by a bomb in Hamariyah, 16 miles northwest of Baghdad. Another U.S. soldier was struck and killed by an Iraqi motorist while changing a flat tire in a convoy from Tikrit.

British official defends government's dossier

LONDON - The senior intelligence figure who compiled Britain's dossier on Iraqi arms testified on Tuesday that the claim that Saddam Hussein could deploy unconventional weapons in 45 minutes was backed by reliable evidence and that its 11th-hour inclusion in the document was supported by security chiefs.

John Scarlett, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, told the inquiry into the death of the weapons expert David Kelly the information was received days before the release of the September 2002 dossier. He said it was viewed as "consistent with established judgments on Iraq's experience and capability in the use of chemical and biological munitions."

He conceded the claim was hearsay from a single source, but said it was "an established line of reporting, and it was quoting a senior Iraqi military officer."

Security Council passes resolution to protect staff

UNITED NATIONS - Spurred to action by last week's bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, the Security Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution aimed at protecting humanitarian workers.

The resolution had languished since late April because of U.S. opposition, but surged into the spotlight after the attack, which killed 23 people - including 19 U.N. staff members - and injured more than 160.

It said deliberate attacks on humanitarian workers in armed conflicts are a war crime - and demands the prosecution of anyone who tries to harm them.

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