Thu, Jun 14, 2007 - Page 7 News List

US, Iraqi forces raid candy factory used by insurgents


US and Iraqi forces raided a candy factory being used as a headquarters by suspected Sunni insurgents in northern Iraq, which has seen a recent rise in violence as militants flee a nearly four-month-old security crackdown in Baghdad.

The discovery on Tuesday illustrated the challenges faced by US and Iraqi troops trying to put a stop to the unrelenting violence even as militants continue to find new ways to thwart stepped-up security measures.


The Bush administration, meanwhile, increased pressure on the political front and dispatched Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte to Baghdad, where he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other Iraqi officials.

Al-Maliki assured Negroponte that his government would persist in its efforts to pass a controversial oil law as well as a bill allowing former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to return to government jobs and join the military.

The meeting came as the US presses the Shiite-led government to show progress on political reforms to bring the disaffected Sunni minority into the political process and stem support for the insurgency.


"A lot of missions are ahead of us, on top of them is developing our security forces to handle their national roles in fighting the al-Qaeda terrorist group, Saddamists and militias to impose law and order in all the country," al-Maliki told Negroponte.

US and Iraqi officials have pinned their hopes on the adoption of the laws as well as the Baghdad operation to quell sectarian attacks, but Iraq's fractured political parties have failed to reach final agreement on any of them.

Tuesday's New York Times reported that Admiral William Fallon, top US commander in the Middle East, warned al-Maliki on Sunday that the Iraqi government needs to make some tangible political progress by next month to counter growing congressional opposition to the war.


He singled out the oil bill, which aims to encourage foreign oil companies to invest in Iraq and spur the country to attain its goal of doubling current production of 2.5 million barrels a day by 2010.

Al-Maliki's Cabinet signed off on the bill in February and sent it to parliament, a move that the Bush administration hailed as a breakthrough.

The troops, who found candy boxes filled with explosives, oxygen cylinders and two tonnes of fertilizer in the basement, spent three hours destroying the payload in controlled blasts in an indutrial area of Mosul, Hussein said.

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