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Prisoners held by U.S. rise 50 percent in Iraq

Published August 25, 2007


WASHINGTON - The number of detainees held by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq has swelled by 50 percent under the troop increase ordered by President Bush, with the inmate population growing from 16,000 in February to 24,500 today, according to American military officers in Iraq.

Nearly 85 percent of the detainees in custody are Sunni Arabs, the minority faction in Iraq that ruled the country under the government of Saddam Hussein, with the other detainees being Shiite Muslims, the officers say.

Military officers say a large number of Iraqi detainees say money is a significant reason they planted roadside bombs or shot at Iraqi and U.S.-led forces.

"Interestingly, we've found that the vast majority are not inspired by jihad or hate for the coalition or Iraqi government," said Capt. John Fleming of the Navy, a spokesman for the multinational forces' detainee operations in Iraq. "The vast majority are inspired by money." The men are paid by insurgent leaders.

Overall, the average length of detention is about a year, the officers said. So far this year, 3,334 detainees have been released, they said.

Fast Facts:

Iraq developments

Reaction to senator: The U.S. military commander in one of the more troubled areas of Iraq said Friday that embracing a call by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., to begin withdrawing troops before the end of the year would be "a giant step backward." Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of troops south of Baghdad, said that under such a scenario, militants pushed from his sector in recent operations would quickly return. Warner is former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Government: Iraq's Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, said Friday that it was "out of the question" that Sunnis would rejoin the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

U.S. casualties: An explosion on Friday killed one American soldier and wounded four in Salahuddin province, a mostly Sunni Arab area north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

[Last modified August 24, 2007, 23:00:12]

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