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Home > News > Report

US now wants to recruit Saddam's soldiers

September 05, 2003 15:40 IST

The United States will recruit soldiers and policemen who served under Saddam Hussein's regime in the new Iraqi security forces, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said.

The US military is accelerating the process of bringing former members of Saddam Hussein's military -- and
possibly his security services -- into the Iraqi security forces, Rumsfeld, who is on an inspection tour in Iraq, said on Thursday.

He said the top US generals in Iraq don't want more than the 140,000 American troops already on duty in the country. But they do want more Iraqis working as police, soldiers, security guards and border patrols.

Iraqi enlisted soldiers and junior officers from lieutenant colonel down could be eligible to join the new Iraqi army, Rumsfeld said, adding that all will be carefully screened to weed out those with anti-American leanings.

Rumsfeld said that between 50,000 and 60,000 Iraqis are doing security work now, more than half of them working as
police officers.

US officials still don't have a good idea whether Saddam loyalists, foreign fighters or other forces were behind the recent bombings in Iraq, sources said.

The defence secretary said the United States is working with allied countries surrounding Iraq -- Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait and Jordan -- to help stem the flow of foreign fighters streaming into Iraq. But he said that cooperation has been spotty so far.

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