Rice: Iraq War 'Worth the Sacrifice'

By Karin Brulliard and Howard Schneider
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 19, 2007; 9:52 AM

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this morning asked Americans "to be patient" as the war in Iraq entered its fifth year, acknowledging early missteps in the conflict but saying "it is worth the sacrifice" to have toppled former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

With a new security plan underway and more American troops deployed to help dampen sectarian violence, "we will start to know relatively soon whether the Iraqis are living up to their obligations," to take more responsibility for security, Rice said in a morning interview on NBC.

As she and other administration officials conducted television interviews on the four-year anniversary of the "shock and awe" invasion of the country, Rice said, "I would ask the American people to be patient...We have invested a lot. It is worth the sacrifice."

More than 3,200 American military personnel have died in the conflict. Bush is scheduled to make remarks about the war at 11:30, following a video-conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

In a separate interview with CBS, Rice said it was probably a mistake not to have put in place a "more localized, more decentralized" plan to rebuild the country, and that the U.S. from earlier on should have put in place the more forceful counterinsurgency strategy now being pursued under the command of Gen. David Petraeus, wire services reported.

As Rice spoke, wire services in Baghdad reported a wave of fresh bombings, including an explosion at a Shiite mosque in Baghdad and four blasts in rapid succession in the oil-rich region of Kirkuk.

The mosque bombing during a prayer service killed at least eight worshipers, wire services reported. In Kirkuk, four car bombs went off within around half an hour of each other, killing about a dozen people, according to an Associated Press report.

A day before in Baghdad, insurgents disguised as mechanics slipped into car repair shops on the ground floor of a hotel used as an Iraqi army post in Anbar province, a hub of the Sunni insurgency, then furtively planted bombs before fleeing and blowing up the building on Sunday, police said.

Iraqi army and police forces also discovered the beheaded bodies of nine police officers in an abandoned post office east of Anbar's provincial capital, Ramadi, police Col. Tareq Aduleimi said. The bodies, found as the forces raided suspected hideouts of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, showed signs of torture, he said.

The violence in the volatile Sunni-dominated province came on a day that the Iraqi military reported the details of a raid this month on a Sunni legislator's home, where officials said soldiers seized 65 Kalashnikov rifles and found traces of explosives on four cars.

Seven people were arrested in the March 8 raid at the home of Dhafir al-Ani, a lawmaker with the largest Sunni bloc in the Shiite-led parliament, Iraqi military spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi said at a news conference. One man, who had a sniper rifle, remains in custody, he said.

Reached by telephone, Ani called the raid "a humiliation attempt" but declined to place blame for it.

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