Iraq calls Mosul dam safe despite U.S. claim
The Iraqi government on Wednesday rejected the findings of a U.S. contract watchdog that a dam near the northern city of Mosul is on the...
BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government on Wednesday rejected the findings of a U.S. contract watchdog that a dam near the northern city of Mosul is on the verge of a collapse that could cause flooding along the Tigris River "all the way to Baghdad."
The report from Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, found that $27 million allocated for repair and reinforcement "has yet to yield significant improvements."
A 2006 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers review called the Mosul Dam "the most dangerous dam in the world." Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said teams of specialists and experts were "working around the clock" to strengthen the dam by bolstering areas suffering from erosion with cement.
"The Mosul Dam is in good condition and it is not in danger," he said.
Civilian deaths fall to lowest 2007 level
BAGHDAD — Civilian deaths from violence in Iraq fell again in October to their lowest level this year, government figures showed on Wednesday, bolstering the U.S. military's assertion that a troop buildup is reducing bloodshed.
Figures from Iraq's health, interior and defense ministries recorded 758 civilians killed in violence in October, along with 117 policemen and 13 Iraqi soldiers.
In September, 884 civilian deaths were recorded, and 62 policemen and 16 Iraqi soldiers were killed.
The highest civilian toll this year was 1,971 in January, and the monthly toll stayed well above 1,000 until September's dramatic decline.
British handover: Saying that Iraqi forces are now capable of dealing with the violence that persists in the south, Britain's Defense Secretary Des Browne said Wednesday that his government intends to hand over security in oil-rich Basra province by mid-December. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in October that the main U.S. foreign partner in Iraq would pull half its remaining troops out by June, leaving a force of only 2,500 stationed outside the city.
Polish pullout: Polish Prime Minister-designate Donald Tusk said his future government would seek to end the nation's military mission in Iraq next year, according to an interview published Wednesday. Poland sent combat troops to the 2003 war in Iraq and still has some 900 soldiers stationed in the southeast, despite public displeasure with the mission.
Seattle Times news services
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