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April 7, 2003
 
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(Reuters Photo)
Iraqi Opposition Leader Is in Nassiriya

Reuters


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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraqi opposition leader Ahmad Chalabi has arrived in the southern Iraqi town of Nassiriya at the head of 700 fighters, joining the U.S. military campaign against the government, an opposition official said on Monday.

The presence of Chalabi, the best known leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), indicates that Pentagon plans for the future of Iraq have gained ground over the rival plans of the State Department, which does not rate Chalabi highly.

The INC official, who asked not to be named, said she spoke to one of Chalabi's aides in Nassiriya by satellite phone on Monday morning Washington time.

An INC statement on Sunday said that the 700 Iraqi fighters would serve under the commander of the U.S. invasion, Gen. Tommy Franks, and help U.S. forces defeat the remaining forces of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

"They will also take part in delivering humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people and maintaining law, order and stability in areas already liberated. The number of Free Iraqi Forces in southern and central Iraq is expected to be increased quickly," the statement added.

The INC official said the people of Nassiriya were flocking to the INC contingent with demands that they restore public services such as water and electricity.

The State Department has had a troubled relationship with Chalabi and did not give the INC much of a role in its planning for the future of Iraq.

But Chalabi has some friends in the Pentagon, the White House and Congress.


photo credit and caption:
Iraqi opposition leader Ahmad Chalabi has arrived in the southern Iraqi town of Nassiriya at the head of 700 fighters, joining the U.S. military campaign against the government, an opposition official said on April 7, 2003. Chalabi is shown during an interview February 9. Photo by Caren Firouz/Reuters

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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