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Iraqi rebel group offers truce online for U.S. to leave country

Iraqi rebel group offers truce online for U.S. to leave country

The purported leader of al-Qaida-linked insurgents in Iraq offered a one-month truce for U.S. troops to withdraw from the country without being attacked, according to a speech posted on an Islamic Web site.
The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, said his fighters were now launching a new offensive, "the offensive of the strong." He said the offensive would last until the final day of the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha, which should finish about January 3.
It was the first time an audio has been issued in the name of al-Baghdadi. The "Islamic State of Iraq" was declared in October by a coalition of Sunni Arab insurgent groups, chief among them al-Qaida in Iraq. Until now, its Web statements have been issued by spokesmen.
The authenticity of the 20-minute audio, posted Friday, could not be verified immediately. It appeared on an Islamic Web site known for displaying militant groups' statements. In Washington, a senior U.S. intelligence official said the CIA was reviewing the recording to determine its authenticity.
"We order you to withdraw your troops immediately, using troop carriers and aircraft, and taking only your personal weapons. Don't withdraw any heavy weapons. Instead you should hand over those and your military bases to the holy warriors of the Islamic State," he said.
He said the withdrawal period should not exceed one month, and during that time "we will allow your withdrawal to proceed without being attacked by explosives or any other form."
Washington had two weeks to respond to the truce offer, he said.
Working out the details
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke optimistically about Iraq's political leaders, their commitment to taking over their own security and dealing with militias that have brought the country to the brink of civil war, saying that he believes the Iraqis have "some concrete plans in mind."
Gates' assessment, forged from a whirlwind trip to Iraq to map out a new course for the war, comes as he is to brief President George W. Bush yesterday on his three-day trip aimed at mapping out a new course for the war that has become increasingly unpopular with Americans.
While Gates has declined to detail the broad strategy he is finalizing with his military commanders, he offered a few hints about some of its possible components during his three days in Iraq.
In the larger context, he spoke optimistically about Iraq's political leaders and their commitment to taking over their own security and dealing with the militias that have brought the country to the brink of civil war.


Updated : 2021-10-19 17:18 GMT+08:00