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thedrifter
10-23-06, 08:46 AM
U.S.-Led Coalition Can't `Cut and Run' From Iraq, Saleh Says

By Mark Deen and Aaron Sheldrick

Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- U.S.-led coalition forces can't ``cut and run'' from Iraq because to do so would increase instability across the Middle East, Iraqi Deputy Premier Barham Saleh said.

``There is no option for the international community to cut and run,'' Saleh told reporters after meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair in London. ``For some time to come we'll need the support of the international community.''

Blair and President George W. Bush are under increasing pressure to set a timetable for exiting Iraq as casualties mount three years after they led the invasion of the country. Six soldiers and four marines were killed there in the last two days. The coalition's death toll is at least 81 this month, the highest monthly tally since November 2004, when 126 died.

The decision to reduce troop levels in Iraq will be made in conjunction with the Iraqi government, Blair's spokesman Tom Kelly said today. Saleh said Iraqi forces are continuing to assume more of the security burden, and will control seven or eight out of 18 provinces by yearend.

Bush conferred on Oct. 21 with his top Iraq commanders over strategy after a security clampdown by U.S. and Iraqi troops in Baghdad was met with a surge in sectarian violence.

Almost 6,600 Iraqi civilians were killed in July and August, the United Nations said in a report last month.

Acknowledging Difficulties

Bush acknowledged Oct. 21 that the situation in Iraq remains difficult.

``As we engage our enemies in their stronghold, these enemies are putting up a tough fight,'' he said in his weekly radio address.

Attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces in Baghdad rose 22 percent this month, even as extra U.S. troops moved into the Iraqi capital in an effort to restore stability, Major General William Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman, said last week.

A soldier assigned to Multi-National Division - Baghdad was killed by small-arms fire at about 1:30 p.m. yesterday southwest of Baghdad, the military said in an e-mailed statement.

A roadside bomb at about 1 p.m. yesterday in eastern Baghdad killed another divisional soldier and two more were killed at about 11:25 a.m. when they were hit by small-arms fire west of the capital.

A Task Force Lightning soldier was killed and three were wounded on Oct. 21 while fighting in Salah ad Din province, the military said in another statement.

Killed in Action

One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died on Oct. 21 from wounds sustained fighting in al-Anbar province west of Baghdad. Three more Marines died in the province in fighting, an earlier statement said. The names of all killed are being withheld until families are notified.

As of Oct. 20, 2,226 members of the U.S. military had been killed in action in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, according to figures posted on the Department of Defense Web site. Including those who have died from other causes, such as illness and vehicle accidents, the toll was 2,781.

More than 21,000 personnel have been wounded in Iraq through to Oct. 20, with 9,543 of them suffering wounds so serious they haven't returned to duty.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo at asheldrick@bloomberg.net .
Last Updated: October 23, 2006 06:48 EDT

Ellie