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MR. SENOR: Good afternoon. I just have a few details and a message related to Ambassador Bremer's schedule, then General Kimmitt has an opening briefing, and then we'll be happy to take your questions.

Ambassador Bremer started his day with a meeting with the Australian prime minister, John Howard. He then had internal meetings at CPA at which he got updates on the situation related to the attacks on the oil facilities -- the oil rig last night. In fact, I know many of you attended a press conference held about an hour ago by the Iraqi minister of oil on the situation. Later today Ambassador Bremer is meeting with the president of Bulgaria. And finally, earlier today he held his weekly meeting with Iraqi journalists, roundtable with Iraqi reporters, and did some television interviews with the Pan-Arabic media following that.

He had a message for the Iraqi journalists that he was hoping will be conveyed to the Iraqi people, and I'll just reiterate it here:

A dangerous situation is developing in Najaf, where weapons are being stockpiled in mosques and in shrines and in schools. This explosive situation threatens the local population there, that is already in a very dangerous situation. It puts all law-abiding citizens in Fallujah (sic) at risk. All individuals that are seeking a peaceful resolution to the situation there must not tolerate the stockpiling of weapons in mosques and in shrines and in schools. All individuals that are seeking a restoration to the holy places of worship from the bases for offensive operations, from the bases of violence that many of these holy places have become must not tolerate this.

And the message is similar for the people of Fallujah, where during the recent violence we saw the use of holy places to stockpile weapons and to organize attacks; where we saw items -- where we saw vehicles such as ambulances, that are to be used for peaceful means, being used as an accessory to violence. This cannot be tolerated. It will not be tolerated by people seeking a peaceful resolution. It will not be tolerated by people who want to minimize bloodshed.

General Kimmitt.

GEN. KIMMITT: Good afternoon.

The coalition continues offensive and support operations focused on restoration of a stable economy in order to -- in the restoration of a stable environment in order to repair infrastructure, stimulate the economy and transfer sovereignty to the people of Iraq.

In the northern zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 65 patrols, five offensive operations and detained 14 anti-coalition suspects. Early this morning, coalition forces conducted cordon and searches in southwest Mosul for two leaders of an anti-coalition cell. Four target locations were searched during the operation. The two primary targets were not present; however, one target was detained along with 13 other personnel.

Today, between 9:30 and 9:45, the enemy launched four indirect fire attacks in Mosul, killing four civilians and wounding 13 civilians and two police officers.

In the first incident a local hospital was attacked with one round, killing two Iraqis and wounding 10. Next, the hotel parking lot just north of Mosul airfield received two rounds, killing two civilians and wounding three. A coalition forward operating base in central Mosul was also attacked with two rounds, but the rounds impacted 500 meters outside the perimeter wounding two Iraqi police.

In the last incident, the Iraqi media network station in Mosul was attacked by two 120 mm rockets. The rounds fell short and created no casualties or damage. Additionally, at approximately 3:00 this afternoon, an improvised explosive device was discovered at Mosul University. An Iraqi police EOD team safely removed the device without casualties or damage.

In the north-central zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 319 patrols, three raids and captured 27 anti-coalition suspects. Yesterday morning a coalition force conducted a raid on a palm grove in Baqubah. The palm grove has been mentioned numerous times at these briefings and was suspected as a launching point for multiple anti-coalition attacks over the past 15 days. The raid detained two Iraqi males, weapons and ammunition.

Yesterday morning anti-coalition forces attacked the civilian shopping area with an IED in Tikrit. The attack resulted in the killing of two Iraqi policemen and two Iraqi civilians. Additionally, 16 other Iraqi civilians were injured in the attack. Iraqi ambulances and fire department vehicles responded immediately and there were no coalition forces operating in the area at the time of the explosion.

In Baghdad, the 1st Cavalry Division conducted 226 patrols and captured 12 anti-coalition suspects in the past 24 hours.

This morning in southern Baghdad, coalition forces conducted a raid to detain a suspected Mujaheddin member. Coalition forces detained five individuals, including the primary target.

Yesterday coalition forces conducted a raid in central Baghdad to kill or capture four targets suspected of having been trained as bomb- makers. Coalition forces detained all four suspects and confiscated weapons and bomb-making material.

Yesterday, while en route to a cordon-and-search mission, coalition forces were attacked by eight personnel with AK-47s and multiple rocket-propelled grenades inside Sadr City. Coalition forces returned fire, killing three enemy dismounts. There were no coalition injuries nor damage to equipment.

Yesterday a coalition forward operating base was attacked with indirect fire near Sadr City. According to the Ministry of Health, six civilians were killed and 38 were wounded, without any coalition casualties.

In the western zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 69 patrols and captured 59 anti-coalition suspects.

Yesterday morning coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted a joint cordon-and-knock to apprehend an ICDC soldier suspected of participating in anti-coalition activities. Coalition forces captured the target at a checkpoint and transported him to a detention facility for further questioning.

Two days ago coalition forces observed 10 males with AK-47s walking southeast of Fallujah. Coalition forces also observed one Iraqi male remove what appeared to be a mortar tube from his vehicle and go into a house. Forces cordoned off the house and requested air support, and when the AC-130 was on station, ground forces engaged the house. Enemy forces inside the house went to preplanned battle positions, and the house was engaged by the AC-130, killing an estimated 25 enemy personnel.

In the central south zone of operations, the division conducted 87 patrols, 43 checkpoints and escorted 12 convoys. Yesterday a coalition patrol was attacked by an IED near Iskandariyah. Immediately after the explosion, the unit came under a small-arms attack. The soldiers returned fire, killing one Iraqi and destroying his truck.

Yesterday, also in Iskandariyah, a 50-passenger bus carrying local Iraqis was attacked by another IED, consisting of four artillery rounds, killing 13 Iraqis and wounding 11.

In the southeastern zone of operations, coalition forces conducted 142 patrols, of which 15 were conducted with joint -- as joint patrols, and captured two anti-coalition suspects in the last 24 hours.

Yesterday three water-borne IED attacks occurred near oil terminals located in the northern Iraqi Gulf. No reported damage to the tankers or terminal, although the attack resulted in two U.S. killed and four U.S. wounded.

Before I step off the podium here, let me give you a better idea of some updates to what's been going on in Fallujah.

Last night after the press conference, the delegation returned from Fallujah. There have been some further agreements between the representatives in Fallujah and the coalition representatives. As part of this dialogue, the Fallujah representatives agreed to extend the weapon turn-in until the 27th of April, and they committed to going back to the people inside Fallujah to spread the word. Mosques will also be used to broadcast this information, and they'll also broadcast the information that anyone carrying a weapon in Fallujah except legitimate security forces, defined at the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, the Iraqi police service or the coalition forces, will be considered hostile.

Conversely, the coalition representatives agreed to begin joint Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, Iraqi police service and coalition patrols inside Fallujah beginning the 27th. And they also agreed -- we also agreed to allow 67 families, extended families, back into Fallujah today.

MR. SENOR: And with that, we'll be happy to take your questions. Yes?

Q Gene Chu (ph), NBC News. This is for General Kimmitt. General, how confident are you with those Fallujans that you're negotiating with in relation to -- what sort of influence do they have over the insurgents, especially those foreign fighters that you're mentioning? And how can these leaders have any sort of influence over these foreign fighters in the city?

GEN. KIMMITT: Well, again, if it is as what has been reported numerous times in many media outlets, that what we have is the citizens of Fallujah participating in this operation, then we would expect that these senior representatives of the citizens within Fallujah will be able to talk to them, reason with them and bring them along in this process.

The way we will have confidence, the way we will be able to trust that we are talking to the right people is simply by their capability to deliver on the promises that they've made. We put them in black today in terms of the ones that were just made last night, but as you can see, in the time period since we talked last night, there hasn't been a lot of movement on the other agreements that they've made.

As to the cease-fire, today we had nine -- eight small-arms attacks, five indirect fire attacks. Collect and delivery, weapons: no weapons were delivered today. Reestablish police and ICD in the city starting 18 April: well, we'll start seeing on the 27th April the movement of the joint patrols. We can go down the list.

I think the way we can trust and have confidence in those representatives, quite simply, is let's start seeing delivery. Let's start seeing delivery on the promises that have been made, and let's start seeing delivery on the expectations on both sides.


Q Gregor Mayer from the German Press Agency, DPA. Mentioning here the date until which something has to happen, the turning in of the weapons, is this to be considered now ultimatum, after which military operations, offensive military operations would resume?

And a second question. This morning eyewitnesses saw an incident, a blowup of a Humvee, American Humvee in eastern Baghdad. Do you have any report on casualties?

GEN. KIMMITT: On the first question, at this point it would not seem to be constructive for either side to be laying down ultimatums. Quite simply, we remain committed to a political track. We remain committed to our end state, which is the return of Iraqi control inside the city of Fallujah: Iraqis in, the removal of foreign fighters out, the weapons turned in and justice being served. Those remain our end states. The means by which we achieve those may or may not be constructed by the issuance of ultimatums. However, we will continue to talk and we will continue the political process as it starts to bear fruit and as it bears fruit. But as we've said many, many times, if we don't start seeing delivery we will cease the discussions and we will take other options.


Q (Through interpreter.) Khallud Ziadi (ph) from Al-Nabila (ph). Each time you said there is an agreement between you and the people of Fallujah, every time you say this you don't honor your promises and you start bombarding the cities. Do you mean that this time you will stop the military operations, or will you continue in the negotiations?

GEN. KIMMITT: Again, there must have been a translation error because when I talked about the indirect fire attacks and the small- arms attacks, those were not ones started by the coalition. Those in fact were started by the people inside the city of Fallujah. I'm not aware that we have had any bomb attacks inside Fallujah over the past couple of days, and it is clear that we have had a unilateral suspension of offensive operations for almost two weeks now. So I'm not certain where you have been given that information from, but I would not sort of put that high on the top of your credible sources of information.

MR. SENOR: Yes, go ahead.

Q Kel (ph) from the NHK. There are reports about killing four children by U.S. soldiers who opened fire after a roadside bomb. So do you have any information about this?

GEN. KIMMITT: It's the same one? Yeah.

We had an incident today where a unit from Baghdad ran into an improvised explosive device. It was down in the vicinity, the area of the martyr's monument -- I think most people know, right down on the canal road. The IED exploded. We had one of our soldiers killed. As we brought that soldier and the wounded off, we left the vehicles there. Naturally, our first concern was for our soldiers.

As the soldiers returned to their vehicles, we saw and observed children that were taking items out of the vehicles. They naturally shooed them away, and when the soldiers got to the vehicles, they started receiving small arms fire from both sides of the road -- from the rooftops, as a matter of fact. Our soldiers responded to the small arms fire and withdrew from that location.

As to the casualties, there's an investigation going on, but we strongly suspect that it was the firers shooting from the rooftops that were firing at the American soldiers, and probably the children that were in the vicinity, that were responsible for any injuries to persons in that area.


Q (Through interpreter.) Raddam Hamad Adi (ph) from Mashadukh (ph). It has been noticed through the statements made by General Kimmitt that there are -- there's a great number of casualties in the areas dominated by the U.S. forces. This does not happen in the areas dominated by the Kurdish militias in Kurdistan and Najaf. Why are the militias in control of the situation more than you do?

GEN. KIMMITT: The casualties that you're talking about -- of course, we wouldn't have any coalition casualties in those areas, such as Karbala and Najaf, because the coalition soldiers, with the exception of a small detachment inside of Karbala, are not present at the time.

But let's make sure we also have our facts correct. Yesterday we had a coalition convoy passing through Karbala that was attacked by an IED, killed a soldier from another country, wounded some of his comrades, and blew up the vehicle. So I'm not sure that's a fair comparison, nor am I certain that there is any basis for that kind of comparison. It just doesn't square with reality.

Q General Kimmitt, I saw some comments from General Hertling down in the Najaf area, saying that some soldiers might go into certain parts of Najaf soon. Can you elaborate on that?

GEN. KIMMITT: No. I would go back to General Hertling. It is not our understanding that we have soldiers going into Najaf soon.

Now as we've said many, many times, we remain open to all the military options, all the way from combat to humanitarian assistance, in that area.

But it's important to remember Najaf is not the target. We have tremendous respect for the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. The target remains Sadr. The target remains Sadr's militia. Those will be the targets, whether they're in that city or another city or another city. The coalition remains committed to ensuring that he is delivered to Iraqi justice.

And as Dan said earlier, anybody who would surround himself near holy mosques for the purpose of trying to intentionally draw some sort of engagement and put those mosques at risk, in effect, would appear to us to be desecrating those mosques, certainly in thought, if not in deed.

MR. SENOR: Yeah, I would just add that we believe that a dangerous situation is developing in Iraq. It threatens to put the law-abiding citizens in that holy city at even greater risk, and that's because there is stockpiling of weapons, not only in mosques but in schools and shrines.

And everybody -- every law-abiding citizen that seeks a peaceful resolution to the situation must speak out. This cannot be tolerated. Every law-abiding citizen that wants to ensure that holy sites are restored to being holy sites and not bases for offensive operations has an interest in making it clear that this will not be tolerated.

Yes? Naja (sp), in the back.

Q (Through interpreter.) Thank you, Mr. Dan. I have a question. When the American or military operations is continuing, the southern areas in Iraq were safe and secure. Now we see violence in Basra and in the southern governates during this week. I would like you to comment. What -- why is this happening? When the military operations are going on, violence starts.

GEN. KIMMITT: Well, I think it's very clear that as we get closer and closer to the hand-over of sovereignty, there are going to be many groups inside this country who are absolutely terrified by the notion of a free, democratic and sovereign Iraq. This latest outburst of violence from Fallujah to Baghdad, perhaps down to Basra, may be the last attempts on the part of these groups who want to deny the citizens of Iraq their freedom, who want to deny the citizens of Iraq their liberty and in the case of the oil in particular deny the citizens of Iraq their major source of income that pays for hospitals, that pays for health clinics, that pays for schools, that pays for the infrastructure of this country. They are trying to attack your patrimony, and it ought to be very, very clear to all how willing these extremists are, how willing they -- how far they are willing to go to try to deny the citizens of Iraq what truly belongs to them.

Q (Through interpreter.) What makes you optimistic that the terrorist actions will get less after the handing over of sovereignty? On what basis do you depend: on the letter of Zarqawi, or do you have your personal interpretation?

MR. SENOR: We have said, Najim, for some time that we, as General Kimmitt said, not only expect there to be violence between now and June 30th, but we also expect there to be violence, tragically, after June 30th. There will still be a significant terror threat in Iraq, and we do not believe that the Iraqi security forces immediately following June 30th will be in a position to defend against this terror threat by themselves. And that's why, while we are handing over political sovereignty to Iraq, we will continue to have a hand in supporting the Iraqi people and supporting the Iraqi security services in an effort to help stabilize the situation here and defend against the terror threat. American security forces will stay on the ground, as will security forces from other coalition countries.

I think it's important to keep in mind that there are a number of parties that want this process to fail. They want this effort to build a democracy in Iraq to fail. And they range from foreign fighters, international terrorists who fear nothing more than a government that can be held accountable in this part of the world by the people over which they govern; that there is actually a democracy here with a free press and a vibrant economy in which the majority -- the lion's share of citizens' socioeconomic status can move upwards. This would be unique in this part of the world, and clearly international terrorists want that to fail.

There are also remnants from Saddam Hussein's regime -- whether they are former Special Republican Guard, former Mukhabarat, former Fedayeen Saddam -- that also want to turn the clock back to a much different era than what we are building right now, an era of Saddam Hussein's former regime, which most Iraqis associate with torture chambers and chemical attacks and mass graves. That's their vision for Iraq. And those individuals in those parties will try to throw things off course between now and June 30th, and they will try to do the same after June 30th. And we will be here to work with the Iraqi security services, to continue to recruit, train and fund the Iraqi security services to help defend against that threat.


Q Karl Vick, Washington Post. Could either of you speak as candidly as you can to the change in tenor from a couple days ago when there was -- when ultimatums were being issued about Fallujah -- "days not weeks" -- to now a talk of a commitment to the political track?

MR. SENOR: I would just say that we've said all along, Karl, that we were hopeful, based on the intentions of those Fallujans with whom we were discussing the situation. We were hopeful by the things they were saying, by what they wanted to deliver on. But we were also cautiously optimistic on their capacity to deliver. That remains to be seen. We continue to be cautiously optimistic. I double, triple underline the cautious there, about where the situation is going.

That said, when you have a period like we've seen over the last 24 hours, that General Kimmitt spoke to, when you do see a real effort here and you do see some progress, it's obviously something that we've got to evaluate. It doesn't mean that our position is less firm. It doesn't mean that we're not watching the situation as aggressively and as diligently as we were a few days ago. It just means that we've seen progress in the last 24 hours and we have to take that progress for what it is.

GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, I would add that it is important to remember that the end state that we're seeking -- not necessarily the means that we are going to use to achieve, whether we use military means or whether we use political means. We are committed to achieving the end, which is to get Iraqi control back into that city, to bring the foreign fighters out, to get the weapons out. We have seen some movement in that direction.

Our patience is not infinite. And if we see foot dragging, if we see a slowdown, if we see a lack of adherence to some of the terms that have been set out, we certainly have more than sufficient military capability. We don't need to flex our muscles, we don't need to demonstrate our military capability. That is well known. It is well established. But anytime a commander has the option of achieving his mission without having soldiers cross the line of departure and go in harm's way, why not give it a chance? There may come a time still, Karl, in the future, when we have got to use the military option. We've got to be very careful when those joint patrols walk into Fallujah that they aren't going into a trap. There's got to be a clear understanding, on the part of anybody that thinks they're going to be walking in with nothing more than side arms and smiles that if they fire on them they won't be fired back upon, because they will be. But the end state is what we need to stay focused upon, which is the restoration of legitimate Iraqi control of that city. If it can be achieved through a political track, that's always a good thing.


Q Hamza Hashem (ph) from Farotid (ph) (daily ?). My name is to Mr. Dan Senor. We understood from your speech you said that the insurgents in Najaf should hand over their weapons; if they don't abide by this, you will attack Najaf. Has the negotiation reached a blind alley?

MR. SENOR: I'll let General Kimmitt speak to the second part of your question. To the first part, I was quite clear. We know from Iraqis that weapons are being stockpiled in mosques and in shrines and in schools. It's a potentially explosive situation, and it is one that is very dangerous to the holy city of Najaf and all its law- abiding citizens.

So everybody in that city who seeks a peaceful resolution to the situation there, everybody in that city who wants to see a restoration to those holy places from the bases of violence and from the bases of violent operations they have become, every law-abiding citizen who wants to bring some sort of minimal bloodshed -- who wants to minimize bloodshed in and around the area, wants to bring a peaceful solution to the area, has an interest in speaking out, has an interest in making it clear that they and we will not tolerate that situation. That's what I said earlier on.

(To General Kimmitt) I don't know if you want to comment on it. No.

Yes? Go ahead.

Q You talked about stockpiling of weapons in Najaf, and there is a militia prepared to fight the coalition forces. Can the coalition give an ultimatum for handing over the weapons or putting an end to the problems in Najaf? Will you have a timeline for that?

GEN. KIMMITT: We have sufficient troops in the area of Najaf to conduct a wide range of military options: humanitarian assistance, civil affairs, combat operations. Once those decisions are made, the soldiers will be told, and they will conduct those operations.

However, there are still opportunities for Muqtada al-Sadr out there. There are opportunities for him to turn himself in to legitimate Iraqi authorities, the Iraqi police service, so that he can face Iraqi justice for the crimes that he has committed on Iraqi soil.

There are no time lines in the near term. We continue to watch. We continue to prepare. We continue to listen. We continue to talk. But as we have done in Fallujah, there will come a time when, if we don't see delivery, the talking will be over.

MR. SENOR: Christine?

Q Christine Spolar, Chicago Tribune. I want to get back to some facts about the stockpiling. Who is stockpiling? Where is the stockpiling coming from? Outside the city? Inside the city? You have troops around that city. How are they getting there?

And also, that you're making this statement -- does that mean you have consulted with any clerics there, notably Grand Ayatollah al- Sistani? Has he advised you that perhaps this is the best way to appeal directly to the people? And what role are the clerics playing with this?

The other question is -- the other --

MR. SENOR: (Chuckling.) Six or seven questions. Welcome back, Christine.

Q They're all related. And the other question is, why is Dan making that as a policy statement? And why is that not a military concern, as far as stockpiling? And are the troops seeing evidence of stockpiling?

MR. SENOR: Okay. I'll try to consolidate all your questions into an answer or into one question.

Ambassador Bremer has heard from Iraqis who -- from the Najaf area that have expressed concern that weapons are being stockpiled in holy places, in schools, mosques, shrines. He decided earlier today to make a statement to Iraqi journalists, in the hope that it is conveyed that the stockpiling of weapons is unacceptable in these holy places and that it will not be tolerated. And as Ambassador Bremer's spokesman, I am reiterating that statement he made earlier today.

Q But Dan, who is stockpiling? And are the troops seeing this?

MR. SENOR: I'm not -- Christine, I'm not going to speculate here on who is stockpiling. I'm going to tell you that when weapons are being stockpiled in holy places by who we believe to be the enemy of a peaceful resolution, we have a responsibility to speak out about it and to warn all law-abiding citizens in Iraq, specifically in Najaf, that this will not be tolerated.

Q And have you asked Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani to help you?

MR. SENOR: I'm not commenting on discussions, more broadly speaking. As you know, Ayatollah Sistani has never received a visit from a member of the coalition. As I've told you before, we have a chain of communication with Ayatollah Sistani. But as far as this issue is concerned, we have heard from Iraqis about concerns related to the stockpiling of weapons in holy places.

Someone who hasn't asked. Go ahead.

Q Jeff Fleishman from The Los Angeles Times. There's a lot of red up on that chart, and I'm just wondering if you could restate again what positive movement you're seeing if the cease-fire is continually broken and arms aren't being turned in. Those seem to be the two big things that you want accomplished, and they haven't been accomplished. And you've been saying that it's going to be days, and days have gone by. And I'm just wondering what exactly the positive movement is you're seeing.

GEN. KIMMITT: Well, for example, last night one of the most important positive movements was the agreement on the return of joint patrols back into the city on the 27th. That is a significant step. If in fact that bears fruit, that means that we have coalition control back inside the city of Fallujah. That means we have Iraqi control back inside the city of Fallujah. That means on the corners will be Iraqi police stations, patrolling the cities will be Iraqi Civil Defense, alongside their coalition partners. And that will be first step into returning the city to a sense of stability that eventually will result in our being able to bring a tremendous amount of funds and civil affairs money and civil affairs expertise into that city.

Are we pleased at this point? No. Would we like these reds to be all greens? Yes. Is it fair to expect that they will all turn to green in 24 hours? Given the types of characters we have inside Fallujah, probably not.

But the coalition is showing a tremendous degree of flexibility, the coalition is showing a tremendous degree of patience, and the coalition is showing a great amount of negotiating skill in being able to sit down with these people on a day-to-day basis. That patience is not everlasting, and if it becomes necessary the military capabilities that we have surrounding that city are certainly more than sufficient to resolve this by force of arms in quite short order. But as long as there is promise and demonstrated performance and delivery on the part of the side in Fallujah, I think that we are going to show some combat patience and see if we can deliver this through a political track.


Q You made a similar agreement when you issued the joint statement about joint patrols. What makes this agreement different?

GEN. KIMMITT: Because this time there has actually been rehearsals being conducted between the ICDC, the IPS and the Marines. There's been more -- far more practical work done in terms of actually getting it started. And there's been an understanding not just that we will restore regular and routine patrols in the city as an aspiration, but they're going in on the 27th, and that is understood by both sides.

MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?

Q My question: What are the latest developments in Fallujah, in particular? Second question: Have you reached an agreement about the crisis in Najaf?

GEN. KIMMITT: I think everything we've talked about thus far has given a fairly good overview of where we stand with regards to Fallujah. We'd be more than happy to spend some time with you after this press conference to go over anything that might have been missed.

We have not received or obtained a final agreement in Najaf. We suspect it will be some time before we are able to achieve our goal, which is Muqtada al-Sadr in the hands of legitimate Iraqi legal authorities, and the defeat and destruction of the Sadr militia.

MR. SENOR: Thank you, everybody.


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