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U.S. delays troop withdrawal as some allies decline to help

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Tuesday, July 15, 2003

WASHINGTON 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 Tommy Franks said the division would be withdrawn from Iraq by September.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.

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