Iraqi TV: 30 dead in Baghdad battle

Iraq's prime minister announces the start of a new initiative to end violence in the capital.

    Nouri Al-Maliki promised to tackle sectarian violence as he marked national army day in Baghdad  [AFP]

    "There will be no refuge from this plan for anyone who is operating beyond the law, regardless of their sect or their political affiliation," Maliki said in a televised speech to mark the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Iraqi army.
     
    New Baghdad initiative
     
    Al-Maliki also urged Iraq's soldiers to avoid taking sides in sectarian violence themselves while warning that further hardships lay ahead for Baghdad's residents.
     

    "We consider the execution of the dictator an internal affair that concerns only the Iraqi people... "

    Nouri al-Maliki   Iraqi prime minister

    "We will come down hard on anyone who does not carry out their orders and who does their job according to his political or sectarian background.
     
    "We are fully aware that implementing the plan will lead to some harassment for all beloved Baghdad residents but we are confident they fully understand the brutal terrorist assault we all face."
     
    Iraqi police said that they had recovered the bodies of around 50 people in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq. Most were apparently the victims of sectarian violence.
     
    Internal affair
     
    Al-Maliki also condemned foreign leaders who criticised his government for the conduct druing the execution of Saddam on December 30, saying the hanging was an internal matter.
     
    "The Iraqi government could be obliged to review its relations with any state that fails to respect the wish of the Iraqi people," he said.
     
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    "We consider the execution of the dictator an internal affair that concerns only the Iraqi people."
     
    He slammed those who criticised the execution.
     
    "We find that this conduct is inciting sedition and flagrant interference in the internal affairs of Iraq and abuses feelings of he families of the victims," Maliki said.
     
    A number of international leaders have criticised Saddam's hanging, saying it appeared more like a sectarian lynching than a court-directed punishment.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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