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Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 17:25 GMT
US urged to accelerate Iraq plan
US soldiers in Iraq
The US currently has 132,000 soldiers in Iraq and is sending more
Iraq's Sunni vice-president has urged Washington to speed up the deployment of extra US troops to stop the "round the clock" killing in his country.

Tariq Hashimi told the BBC that previous security drives had failed because they had too few combat troops.

Mr Hashimi, one of two vice-presidents, spoke after a bloody weekend that saw 135 people die in a Baghdad bombing.

US and Iraqi forces are preparing for a new joint offensive aimed at restoring security in the Iraqi capital.

A command centre overseeing their efforts was due to start operations on Monday, but the timeline for implementing the security plan is not yet clear.

Mr Hashimi, Iraq's most senior Sunni politician, said if promised troops did not materialise soon, the situation could deteriorate even further.

It will be a steadily increasing amount of pressure brought to bear on the insurgents and the militias and the criminals
Col Chip Lewis
US officer

He was scathing about the Iraqi government's response to the violence, saying it was slow and unprofessional, while he blamed the increase in attacks on Iran, arguing that the recent bombings were so large a government had to be involved.

In the latest violence in Baghdad, at least 24 people were killed and scores were wounded in three bomb attacks.

In the worst incident 10 people were killed and at least 60 injured in a truck bomb attack on a petrol station in Saidiya, south-west Baghdad.

Two other car bombs struck a garage, killing eight, and a square outside a children's hospital in central Baghdad, killing six.

The US military said two US soldiers had died in separate incidents on Sunday.

Senate debate

Despite Mr Hashimi's call for a speedy deployment, it is still likely to be several months before the US and Iraqi governments have the extra troops in place.

US President George W Bush announced last month that he planned to send an extra 21,500 troops to Iraq - most of them earmarked for Baghdad.

But Mr Bush's new strategy is set to provoke further heated debate in Washington later on Monday, with senators beginning discussion of a non-binding resolution that criticises the proposal to deploy extra US forces.

President Bush is also due to present budget proposals to the Democratic-led Congress that will include requests for an extra $100bn for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan for the rest of 2007 and more than $145bn for the 2008 fiscal year.

Baghdad sweep

The new command centre for the Baghdad operations is being headed by an Iraqi officer, Gen Abboud Gambar, a Shia who fought US forces in the 1991 Gulf War.

He was due to take charge on Monday, with the much-heralded joint security drive beginning "soon thereafter", US military officials said.

Scene of Baghdad bombing
Saturday's bombing obliterated a market packed with shoppers
The offensive will involve US and Iraqi forces, thousands of whom are already on the ground, sweeping Baghdad for militants and illegally held weapons, the officials said.

The Iraqi government says it will announce guidelines for the new plan in the coming days.

It will be the third attempt at pacifying the capital since Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki took power in May.

'Rolling surge'

Col Doug Heckman, an adviser to the Iraqi army, said the new operation would be "a multiple order magnitude of difference" compared with previous offensives.

"It's going to be much more than this city has ever seen and it's going to be a rolling surge," he added.

Another US officer, Col Chip Lewis told reporters: "It will be a steadily increasing amount of pressure brought to bear on the insurgents and the militias and the criminals."

It is unclear how many US and Iraqi soldiers will take part in the offensive.

Col Heckman said he expected to see "concrete results" in the next six months.

US military chief urges patience among Iraqis

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