BAGHDAD, March 25, 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said on Saturday, March 25, that militias, many with strong ties to powerful Shiite leaders and well entrenched in security and police forces, are killing more Iraqis than "terrorists," urging Iraqi leaders to rein them in.Reply
"More Iraqis are dying from the militia violence than from the terrorists," he told reporters during a visit to a Baghdad youth center newly renovated with US funds, reported Reuters.
"The militias need to be under control."
Khalilzad renewed accusations on Friday, March 25, that Iran is training, supplying and funding Shiite violence in Iraq.
Shiite militias have melded into Iraqi security forces and police and they are unlikely to want to give up their weapons at a time of raging sectarian violence, according to Reuters.
Iraq has been ravaged by sectarian violence since the bombing of a revered Shiite mosque in Samarra, north of Baghdad, on February 22.
In the following days, more than 450 civilians, mostly Sunnis, were killed and 81 Sunni mosques targeted, including eight completely destroyed, in reprisal attacks.
At least 46 people, mostly Shiites, were killed and hundreds wounded in car bombings in the Shiite Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City on Sunday, March 12.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a report issued on Monday, February 27, that only the introduction of significant changes to the Iraqi "sectarian" constitution and disbanding government-condoned militias can help ward off a deadly civil.
Several US senators visiting Iraq on Saturday said US patience was running thin over Iraq, with some suggesting a continued military presence would only fuel the insurgency – the American term for anti-occupation resistance.
"We all acknowledge, particularly after visiting here, that this is a very long, tough enterprise and challenge that we are facing and I think the best way to treat it is to tell the American people exactly that," Senator John McCain, the head of the delegation, told reporters.
He said he was guardedly optimistic that a new government would be formed "in weeks".
As US President George W. Bush's approval ratings in polls are lower than for any American leader in recent history, more Americans support his impeachment for misleading the American public and lying to them about his war on Iraq, the Washington Post reported Saturday.
The Bush administration is eager to see Iraqi Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni politicians reach a deal on a unity government.
Iraq's divided leaders will hold more talks on Saturday, but there are no signs they are close to breaking the deadlock.
Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Friday he believed the parties were now willing to compromise and urged speed.
Parliamentary polls were held in December but a row over the prime minister and sectarian violence have delayed the formation of Iraq's first full-term government since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.
Outgoing Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has said he will not step down, despite pressure to do so, and is confident of the backing of his Shiite Alliance bloc, despite opposition from other parties.
Alliance sources said internal pressure and Washington's reluctance may force him to stand aside.
Kurdish and Sunni leaders have opposed the nomination of "not-neutral" Jaafari to lead the new government.
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