Foreign terrorists in Iraq continue to target Iraqi civilians, government officials, security forces, and coalition troops.
U.S. and Iraqi officials have highlighted the responsibility that Iraq’s neighbors, and in particular Syria, have to prevent terrorists from using their territory. "As its neighbors embrace democracy and political reform, Syria continues to harbor or directly support groups committed to violence," says U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "It is time," she says, "for Syria to make a strategic choice to join the progress that is going on all around it."
U.S. General John Vines commands the coalition forces in Iraq. General Vines says the terrorists passing through Syria come from many countries, including Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt:
"What we find is that there's monetary value assigned to attacks against the coalition. In some cases, as little as one-hundred-fifty dollars is paid to someone to put in an improvised explosive device, to put perhaps a mine or two or three artillery shells into a hole with a remote detonator."
The Iraqi government is working to increase the capabilities of Iraqi security forces. "The more we build our forces. . . .and assume more responsibility," says Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Hoshyar Zebari, "the less role the multinationals will have in Iraq":
"If there would be some withdrawal [of coalition forces], let's say in 2006, I think it would be understandable because, by then also, the capacity of our military forces would be greater and better equipped, better trained. And, already on the ground, really, there are many responsibilities that are being transferred gradually to Iraqi units from the multinational forces."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan says that the insurgents and foreign terrorists in Iraq seek only to destroy:
"They really have no vision. Their only alternative is chaos and destruction and the killing of innocent civilians."
The terrorists "have not been able to stop the progress that the Iraqi people are making on the political front," says Mc. McClellan. And militarily, he says, "they will be defeated."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.