Bush Warns Violence Will Intensify In Iraq In Weeks Ahead
By Alex Keto, Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- President George W. Bush warned Monday that violence in Iraq will likely intensify in coming weeks as the deadline for turning over sovereignty to an interim government approaches.
Nevertheless, Bush again vowed to stay the course in Iraq and not permit the insurgents to force U.S. troops out of the country.
Bush made his comments to journalists after meeting with the family of a serviceman who had been killed in Iraq. Bush said he assured the family their son did not "die in vain."
"I assured him (the father) that we will stay the course and a free Iraq is very important for peace in the world, long-term peace," Bush said. "We are being challenged in Iraq because people there hate freedom."
"The family was pleased to hear their son did not die in vain," be added.
Looking toward the immediate future, Bush warned that the fighting in Iraq will likely intensify over the coming weeks as different factions jockey for power.
"My judgment is the closer we come to the deadline, the more likely it is that people will challenge our will," Bush said.
However, Bush said he has no intention of putting off the transfer of power, which is scheduled to take place on June 30.
"The date remains firm," Bush said.
Bush said Muqtada al-Sadr, a firebrand Shiite cleric, is fundamentally opposed to democracy in Iraq. On Sunday, thousands of his followers attacked U.S. troops, killing 10.
"In the particular incident with Sadr, this is one person who has decided rather than allow democracy to flourish, he is going to exercise force and we just can't let it stand," Bush said.
Bush noted that an Iraqi judge has issued an arrest warrant for al-Sadr. Al- Sadr has been charged with murder.
-By Alex Keto, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9256; Alex.Keto@dowjones.com
Dow Jones Newswires