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Iraqi Leader Lashes Out at U.S. Critics

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By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA
The Associated Press
Monday, August 27, 2007; 1:11 AM

BAGHDAD -- Iraq's embattled prime minister lashed out at American critics Sunday, saying Sen. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats who have called for his ouster should "come to their senses" and stop treating Iraq like "one of their villages."

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also lambasted the U.S. military for raids in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad, adding new strains ahead of next month's showdown in Washington over the future of the U.S. mission.

The grim combination of ongoing violence and political deadlock have increased frustration in both Washington and Baghdad, with American lawmakers increasingly critical of al-Maliki's performance and Iraqi leaders growing weary of what they consider unfair U.S. criticism.

Clinton and Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have called for al-Maliki to be replaced.

"There are American officials who consider Iraq as if it were one of their villages, for example Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin. They should come to their senses," al-Maliki said at a news conference.

Al-Maliki denounced recent U.S. military actions in the Baghdad Shiite neighborhoods of Shula and Sadr City that according to the Iraqis resulted in civilian deaths.

"Concerning American raids on Shula and Sadr City, there were big mistakes committed in these operations. The terrorist himself should be targeted not his family," al-Maliki said "We will not allow the detaining of innocent people."

Two nights ago the U.S. military clashed with Shiite gunmen in Shula after they attacked an American patrol. The U.S. said eight "terrorists" were killed, but some Iraqis reported civilians were among the dead and injured.

U.S. forces also are routinely raiding Shiite militiamen in Sadr City, often calling in helicopter fire.

Al-Maliki launched his verbal counteroffensive about two weeks before the American commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker are due in Washington to report to Congress on progress in Iraq since the introduction of 30,000 more American troops.

The presence of those reinforcements has done little to bring about political reconciliation among Iraq's Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds _ the key to lasting stability.

In the latest in a series of political crisis meetings, Iraq's top leaders failed again Sunday to convince the main Sunni bloc to join a new alliance of Shiites and Kurds to break the political impasse.


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