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SLUG: 2-325526 Iraq/Wrap (L)
TITLE=IRAQ / WRAP (L-O)
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HEADLINE: Iraq Violence Continues to Rage, Bush Vows to Stay the Course
INTRO: At least 19 Iraqis, including eight policemen, and six U.S. military personnel were killed in separate attacks since Friday in Iraq. As VOA's Serena Parker reports, in spite of the violence, President Bush and the Iraqi prime minister have reaffirmed their opposition to setting a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal.
TEXT: There has been a series of bomb attacks and ambushes in Iraq, as insurgents continue their campaign against the country's fledgling democracy.
On Saturday, U.S. military officials in Baghdad confirmed that six U.S. troops were killed and 13 wounded in a bomb attack on a military convoy in the city of Fallujah. At least one of the dead and most of the wounded are U.S. servicewomen, who are responsible for searching female Iraqis at military checkpoints in the city.
President Bush said attempts to break the will of the American and Iraqi peoples will fail, as insurgents have in the past when they attempted to derail the transfer of sovereignty a year ago and the January elections.
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"Insurgents have tried to achieve that goal before . Now the terrorists are trying to undermine the new government and intimidate Iraqis from joining the growing Iraqi security forces. Yet, democracy is moving forward, and more and more Iraqis are defying the terrorists by joining the democratic process."
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Iraqi officials said 11 people, including three insurgents, were killed in suicide bomb attacks outside the home of an Iraqi Special Forces officer north of Baghdad, while the officer was not injured.
Earlier Saturday, eight Iraqi policemen were killed after insurgents attacked their police station near the city of Ramadi, in the western Anbar province. The province, which borders Syria and Jordan, is believed to be the base of operations for the insurgency. In recent weeks, U.S. Marines and Iraqi forces have launched several major offensives against the Iraqi militants and foreign fighters they suspect are hiding there.
President Bush, who met with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari at the White House on Friday, used his weekly radio address to discuss the situation in Iraq.
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"The terrorists know that Iraq is a central front in the war on terror, because they know that a stable and democratic Iraq will deal a severe blow to their ideology of oppression and fear."
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The president said the U.S. military will continue to train Iraqi security forces, and only when Iraq's military can stand on its own, will U.S. troops return home.
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The United States has suffered more than 17-hundred casualties in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. The rising death toll and increasingly bloody insurgency have led many Americans to question the U.S. presence in Iraq. Lawmakers from both parties have spoken of the need for a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops, an idea the Bush administration and the Iraqi government have dismissed.
With polls showing that a majority of Americans do not approve of the way the president is handling Iraq, Mr. Bush is planning to speak about the situation in Iraq during a nationally televised address Tuesday. (SIGNED)
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