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Iraqi Officials Angered by U.S. Raid near Kerbala - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iraqi policemen march during their graduation after finishing two months' training in Samarra, north of Baghdad (R)

Iraqi policemen march during their graduation after finishing two months’ training in Samarra, north of Baghdad (R)

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi officials have expressed outrage over a U.S. raid near the holy Shi’ite city of Kerbala, which they said should have been approved by local authorities since security for the area is under Iraqi control.

One man was killed in the early morning raid on Friday, the officials told a news conference. They described him as a civilian.

The U.S. military has not responded to questions about the incident.

The row comes at a sensitive time for Washington, which is negotiating a new security pact with Baghdad to provide a legal basis for American troops to stay in Iraq after a United Nations mandate expires on December 31.

One of the key sticking points in negotiations has been whether the U.S. military could conduct operations and detain suspects without Iraqi approval.

“This action was barbaric and a violation of Iraqi sovereignty … Iraqi forces in the local government were not aware of it,” Aqeel al-Khazali, the governor of Kerbala province, told a news conference on Saturday.

Provincial police chief Major-General Raad Shakir said the raid took place before dawn on Friday when U.S. helicopters landed in the al-Hindiya district, just east of the city of Kerbala. One person was killed and another detained, he said.

“(The U.S. military) claimed they were terrorists,” Shakir told the news conference in Kerbala, 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Baghdad.

The Kerbala provincial council said it would stop working with U.S. forces.

The U.S. military handed security control of the province to Iraqi authorities last October. It is one of nine of Iraq’s 18 provinces where Iraqi forces are now responsible for security.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on June 13 that talks on the new security pact were deadlocked, partly because Baghdad objected to giving U.S. forces freedom to detain Iraqis or to conduct operations independent of Iraqi control.

Since then, officials say Washington has agreed to set up joint bodies to vet planned U.S. security operations.

A week after his criticism of the negotiations, Maliki and President George W. Bush spoke via a video conference call and the White House said the two agreed talks were proceeding well.

And on Wednesday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said the two sides were making progress in completing the pact.

The “status of forces” security agreement is similar to pacts the United States has with many other countries, setting out rules for U.S. military activity.

Besides the pact, the two countries are negotiating a long-term agreement on political, economic and security ties.

Women march during a rally demanding the release of the U.S.-backed Neighborhood Patrol's leader and its five members who were arrested by the Iraqi army in northern Baghdad (R)

Women march during a rally demanding the release of the U.S.-backed Neighborhood Patrol’s leader and its five members who were arrested by the Iraqi army in northern Baghdad (R)

Republican presidential candidate U.S. Senator McCain meets with Iraqi President Talabani in Washington (R)

Republican presidential candidate U.S. Senator McCain meets with Iraqi President Talabani in Washington (R)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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