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Violence Persists as Rumsfeld Visits Iraq

So far, about 100,000 Iraqis have been trained, equipped and readied to serve in the country's security forces, and U.S. officials hope that number will rise to about 145,000 by the end of January. A senior military officer told reporters Sunday that there should be 27 Iraqi battalions by then, the equivalent of three divisions.

Rumsfeld said he had no specific plans to boost U.S. troop levels in Iraq before the elections but that such decisions would depend on whether his generals ask for more help. Casey said he will ask for more troops if he needs them. Rumsfeld also said he could go to coalition partners for more help but expects Iraqi forces to be sufficient.


Medics lift the body of a victim of a car bombing in central Baghdad. In a separate incident, a U.S. soldier was killed when a vehicle exploded in east Baghdad. (Namir Noor-eldeen -- Reuters)

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"This is their country," Rumsfeld said. "It is Iraqis who will have to build this country, it is Iraqis who will have to defend this country."

In Kirkuk, Rumsfeld delivered the same message to Iraqis, saying: "Sovereignty without the ability to protect it isn't sovereignty. What you're doing is to ensure the sovereignty of this country. We can help, but we can't do it. You have to do it."

In Baghdad, Ryiadh Abu Arshad, who watched the aftermath of one of Sunday's bombings while munching a sandwich at a food stand, dismissed the Americans' plans as "100 percent wrong."

"No police in the world are able to stop any terrorism," he asserted. "You need a strong army, and since the American army, the best in the world, couldn't stop it, nobody will. So let's accept it as part of our life. Maybe in the next minute, you and me will die here by the next rocket or car bomb. Who knows?

"Let me finish my sandwich so at least I will die not hungry."

Correspondents Karl Vick and Steve Fainaru contributed to this report.


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