BAGHDAD ø The U.S. military plans to review its training program for
Iraqi police and security forces in the wake of a Sunni insurgency attack on a
police station in which 25 people were killed and 75 detainees were released.
Up to 70 combatants, some of whom were believed to have been foreign
volunteers, stormed the Faluja police station and killed more than a dozen
officers in Saturday's attack. The insurgents met virtually no resistance as
they captured the station in broad daylight and killed most of the people
inside. Then, the insurgents released 75 detainees being held in the prison
"The tactics were well conducted," Coalition Provisional Authority
administrator Paul Bremer said on Sunday. "We're still
looking into that to try to find out what the implications are."
Iraqi police have been sent for
eight weeks of training in Iraq and Jordan, Middle East Newsline reported.
U.S. and Iraqi officials said the military and Coalition Provision
Authority plan to examine the prospect of additional training for Iraqi
security forces to deal with coordinated insurgency attacks such as that
which took place in Faluja on Saturday.
Officials said information on the attack remained scarce because few
police officers survived the attack. They said the insurgents were believed
to have been led by former army commanders under the Saddam Hussein regime.
They pointed to the classic battle tactics employed by the attackers and
said Saddam loyalists might have used foreign volunteers for the initial
The Sunni combatants were armed with rocket-propelled grenades, machine
guns and hand grenades. Four of the attackers were killed and two of them
were identified as Lebanese nationals.
The Iraqi police ø of which nine were killed ø did not have anything
more powerful than semi-automatic assault rifles, officials said. Ten
members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps in the police station were also
U.S. troops, who in late 2003 pulled out of Faluja under constant Sunni
insurgency attacks, did not participate in the battle. The ICDC, trained to
fight insurgents, was deployed in a nearby compound, but they were pinned
down by RPG and automatic fire.
Officials said the Iraqi police were also unaware of the preparations
for the attack. They said the insurgents blocked the road leading to the
police station and warned shopkeepers to stay away from the area.
The failure to defend the Faluja station could result in a redeployment
of Iraqi forces, particularly in the Sunni Triangle, officials said. They
said this could include the deployment of Iraqi or U.S.-led coalition forces
in or near Iraqi police and security facilities in such cities as Faluja,
Nassariya and Tikrit. They also cited the prospect of a delay in the U.S.
decision to withdraw from Iraqi cities by July 2004. The pullout is meant to
with the transfer of power to a new Iraqi government on June 30.
Iraqi and U.S. officials agree that after a lull Sunni insurgents have
increased the pace of attacks over the last month. Many of the attacks were
believed to have been conducted by foreign volunteers, who in contrast with
Saddam loyalists have confronted U.S. and Iraqi troops. Saddam loyalists
have preferred to conduct stand-off attacks.
So far, more than 300 Iraqi security personnel have been killed in Sunni
insurgency attacks since May 2003. Iraq has deployed nearly 70,000 police,
just short of the goal of 71,000 officers.
Despite accelerated recruitment and training, the other security forces
have expanded slowly. The ICDC, authorized to battle insurgents, has about
21,000 members. Its goal has been to reach 92,000 within the year.
The new Iraqi Army has fewer than 2,000 of a planned 40,000 troops.
Officials stressed that the Faluja debacle did not reflect on the
capability of Iraqi security forces throughout the country. They said the
police and ICDC have demonstrated the ability to acquire excellent
intelligence on Saddam loyalists and Al Qaida insurgents.
On Sunday, Iraqi police, in the first such operation, arrested
a senior Baath Party official and ranked 41 on the U.S. military's list of
55 top fugitives. He was identified as Mohammed Zimam Abdul Razaq, Baath
regional chairman in the northern provinces of Nineveh and Tamim.
Iraqi police in northern Iraq also reported the arrest of two Iraqis
said to have carried a barrel of material believed to be uranium. Police
said the Iraqis with the suspected uranium were arrested at a checkpoint
north of Mosul on their way to northern Iraq. They said the material in the
barrel would be examined to determine its content.
It was the first time Iraqi police have seized material said to be
uranium. Last month, Iraqi officials said they were on alert for uranium
shipments from Iran smuggled by agents of Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi, regarded by
the United States as the most lethal insurgent in Iraq.