WASHINGTON Ñ The United States has postponed plans to withdraw more
than 10,000 soldiers from Iraq.
The Defense Department said it would not be able to pull out members of
the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division over the next three months. Officials
said about 70 percent of the division would remain in Iraq indefinitely amid
the Sunni insurgency north of Baghdad.
Officials said a factor in the decision to shelve the 3rd Division
pullout was the reluctance of U.S. allies to send troops to Iraq. India has
refused a U.S. request to send up to 17,000 troops for a planned third
international division, Middle East Newsline reported.
Britain and Poland have agreed to command two divisions. Pakistan and
Portugal are also said to have delayed responses to U.S. appeals to send
thousands of troops to Iraq.
Last week, outgoing Central Command chief Gen. Tommy Franks said the
division would be withdrawn from Iraq by September. Other military officials
said the withdrawal of the first two brigades of the division had been
scheduled for August.
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said 19 countries have been
participating in the stabilization of Iraq. Rumsfeld said another 19
countries have pledged to contribute to the multi-national force in Iraq.
The United States has 148,000 infantry soldiers, down from a high of
151,000. Officials said the Pentagon will try to withdraw the 3rd Infantry
Division by November.