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SLUG: 2-315478 Iraq Wrap (L O)
TITLE=IRAQ WRAP (L-O)
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INTRO: U-S military officials in Iraq say some Marine units are preparing to pull back from positions in the strife-ridden city of Fallujah, to coincide with the arrival of Iraqi security forces commanded by former officers of Saddam Hussein's disbanded army. V-O-A's Michael Bowman reports from Washington, U-S warplanes mounted strikes in Fallujah for a third consecutive day as 10 U-S servicemen were killed elsewhere in the country.
TEXT: U-S military officials deny that any full-scale withdrawal of Marines from Fallujah is under way. Rather, they say U-S forces are being "repositioned" in and around Fallujah to allow Iraqi security forces to assume a lead role in efforts to quell an uprising provoked by an estimated one-to-two thousand die-hard insurgents.
Saib al-Gilani is one of several intermediaries who have overseen tenuous negotiations between U-S forces and the insurgents that, at one point, yielded a fragile ceasefire:
/// AL-GILANI ACT ///
We have heard that the American troops are going to withdraw their powers from Fallujah and this, if it would happen, would be a very good sign, an indicator of peaceful progress. I was a member of the first delegation that went to Fallujah for negotiations with the fighters there and with the people in Fallujah. We insisted from the beginning that peace should become a language and there is no general or popular punishment just because of a few aggressive actions from somebody.
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In spite of the apparent easing of the U-S military presence in Fallujah, U-S warplanes continued to strike targets in the city believed to be under the control of the insurgents. Coalition forces hope to stabilize Iraq's security situation ahead of a planned June 30th transfer of power.
Elsewhere in Iraq, the death toll for U-S troops continues to mount. Eight U-S soldiers were killed and several others wounded in a car bombing near Baghdad Thursday, while separate attacks on U-S convoys in Baghdad and Baquba left two other U-S soldiers dead. The violence raised the death toll for U-S forces in Iraq to 126 in April, the highest monthly total since the occupation began.
Meanwhile, a public opinion poll of nearly 35-hundred Iraqis shows most are glad that Saddam Hussein was ousted, but that many have serious misgivings about the continued presence of U-S troops in their country. The C-N-N/U-S-A Today/Gallup poll showed a slim majority -- 51 percent -- saying that they and their families are better off now than they were before last year's U-S-led invasion. But 57 percent said coalition forces should leave Iraq "immediately," and 58 percent did not approve of the tactics and conduct of U-S troops. (SIGNED)
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