Hammond said Iraqi forces will have the main responsibility for protecting polling places on the voting day, but said U.S. forces will be standing by to react rapidly.
U.S. military officials have said previously that four of Iraq's 18 provinces -- holding nearly one-quarter of Iraq's population -- could be too dangerous for significant voter participation.
In violence yesterday, Iraqi security officers said 15 Iraqi soldiers were missing and feared kidnapped after insurgents attacked their bus with rocket-propelled grenades in Anbar Province, where the soldiers were involved in work at a U.S. military base.
Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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