Most Falluja police will not be rehired

Three-quarters of police officers in the city of Falluja are to lose their jobs in a purge of resistance sympathisers, an Iraqi commander has said.

    Falluja faced a devastating US-led assault in November

    The commander of Iraqi security forces in the western city, General Madhi Hashim, said not all policemen would be reincorporated

    "The force had some 2000 policemen but we will rehire only 500," he said.

    "They will be picked for their integrity and on condition they never took part in terrorist operations."

    Hashim said the city's old police force had been disbanded on 4 November, four days before a devastating US-led offensive on the city was launched. 

    New police chief

    He said the new police chief would be General Shaaban al-Janabi. 

    "The Interior Ministry has appointed General Shaaban, but he will not have full control over decision-making. If he proves able after a month, he will take full and official responsibility," Hashim said. 

    A number of Iraqi police officers 
    sympathised with the fighters

    Al-Janabi, a former officer in Saddam Hussein's army, had been the first choice of Falluja's tribal leaders, Hashim said. 

    He said traffic police would resume duties in the city on 12 February. Since the winding down of the US-led offensive, an 800-strong force dispatched from the capital has been in charge of policing in Falluja. 

    "We will withdraw this force only once the local police is fully prepared" to take over, the general said. 

    Gradual handover

    The US military confirmed that a gradual handover was planned. "We will soon begin a vetting process in conjunction with the ministry of interior to hire traffic police for Falluja," Lieutenant-Colonel Dan Wilson said. 

    "The process of re-establishing a regular police force will take place over the coming months and we are in the planning stages of that effort with the Ministry of Interior," he said. 

    "This is an area where the insurgents were actually cutting the heads off soldiers that were trying to come back from leave and so forth"

    David Petraeus,
    US lieutenant-general

    "Initially, however, the duties of the police will be related exclusively to traffic control in Falluja. There are no plans to remove the Iraqi Security Forces from Falluja, although there is a continual rotation of different units in and out of the city." 

    In recent days, US commanders have spoken of the difficulties of recruiting and training reliable personnel for Iraq's fledgling security forces in the north and west of Baghdad. 

    "This is an area where the insurgents were actually cutting the heads off soldiers that were trying to come back from leave and so forth," US Lieutenant-General David Petraeus said on Friday. 

    "It was a real challenge during that time but we've turned a corner with that and, as I said, a substantial number of soldiers are heading to those units."



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