Allawi Backs Tribunal's Decision

A U.S. Army soldier patrols through the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad Monday, July 5, 2004. The militant Shiite Muqtada al-Sadr pledged Sunday to resist "oppression and occupation" and calling the new interim Iraqi government "illegitimate." Previously, Al-Sadr had made conciliatory statements to the new government of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a fellow Shiite. Men in background poster are unidentified.
Iraq's interim prime minister said Monday that he would not interfere with an Iraqi tribunal's right to decide whether Saddam Hussein and his top lieutenants should be executed on war crimes charges, the Arab language television station Al-Arabiya reported.

Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said he was willing to abide by whatever the court decides in the trial, which is not expected to begin for months.

Iraq assumed legal custody of Saddam from the United States last week and re-instituted the death penalty, which had been suspended by U.S. occupation authorities.

"As for the execution, that is for the court to decide so long as a decision is reached impartially and fairly," he said.

Saddam's first court appearance Thursday dominated the media across Iraq, and revived debate over his eventual fate. The broadly outlined charges include the slaughter of Shiites during a 1991 uprising and a chemical weapons attack against Kurds in the northern city of Halabja.

Thousands of Kurds demonstrated Monday in Halabja, demanding that Saddam and one of his key lieutenants Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as ``Chemical Ali'' be put to death for the gas attack that killed 5,000 people on March 16, 1988.

Carrying photos of their slain loved ones, the marchers said they want Saddam to be tried and executed in their town.

"Every family in this city lost no less than five of its dear sons," said one demonstrator, Sabiha Ali, 50. "Therefore, we want to execute Saddam on the soil of the land."

Iraq has been wracked by lawlessness and violence since the fall of Saddam's regime 14 months ago.

U.S. jets attacked a house in the turbulent city of Fallujah on Monday, killing at least 10 people, officials said. The U.S. military had no immediate comment on the blasts.

Ambulances raced to the eastern side of the city, where U.S. airstrikes have frequently targeted safehouses used by members of Jordanian militant Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi's network. Rescue workers picked up body parts, witnesses said.

"U.S. jets shelled a residential house in the al-Shuhdaa neighborhood in Fallujah," said police Capt. Mekky Hussein al-Zaidan.

U.S. forces have hit the area with four airstrikes since June 19, killing dozens. Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant said to be connected to al Qaeda, is believed to be behind a series of coordinated attacks on police and security forces that killed 100 people only days before U.S. forces handed over power to an Iraqi interim government.

Meanwhile, Iraq's oil exports were cut nearly in half as workers struggled Monday to repair a key pipeline shut down after looters sabotaged the line, officials with the South Oil Company and traders said.

The looters, trying to steal crude oil for sale on the black market, breached one of the country's two key southern pipelines, said an SOC official speaking on condition of anonymity.

Also, a land mine detonated on Monday along the main route to the southern city of Samawah, where Japanese troops are based, police officials said. There were no reports of injuries. The route is used frequently by coalition forces.

In southern Iraq, insurgents fired rockets at a government building early Monday, but instead struck nearby homes, wounding eight people, police said. The attack targeted the province's main offices near the center of the Basra.

Interior Ministry officials also announced Monday the capture of two Iranians suspected of trying to detonate a car bomb, but gave no further details.

Iraqi officials have blamed foreign fighters and religious extremists for a wave of vehicle bombings in recent months. The attacks have led to fears that religious fanatics and Saddam loyalists may be joining forces to fight both the multinational force and the new Iraqi government.

Iraqi troops thwarted a car bombing outside their regional headquarters northeast of Baghdad on Sunday, killing an attacker before could detonate his vehicle. Two bystanders also died in the assault in Baqouba, the scene of fierce fighting last week between American soldiers and insurgents who tried to seize government buildings and police stations.

Also in Baqouba, gunmen fired at a building belonging to a city council official in the town of Khalis on Sunday, killing two people and wounding two, said Salih Mahdi, the spokesman for the Diyala province.

Iraqi government officials have suggested that tough moves will soon be taken to combat the violence, but canceled a news conference Monday where they had been expected to announce a limited amnesty for insurgents and martial law in parts of the country.

The news conference with Justice Minister Malik Dohan al-Hassan and Human Rights Minister Bakhtiyar Amin was postponed indefinitely just as it was scheduled to begin. The government had canceled a previous news conference on the same topic.

Britain and Australia offered support Monday for the proposed amnesty offer. Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer agreed that the interim Iraqi government was entitled to make such decisions.

CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier reports that Iraqi security officials are considering a host of new measures, but they've delayed announcing them for several days. American officials, however, say they stand ready to help when the Iraqis decide how they want to start this fight.

The delay in deciding on security measures came only hours after Muqtada al-Sadr, a militant Shiite cleric whose uprising last April left hundreds dead, issued a defiant statement calling the new interim Iraqi government ``illegitimate.''

``We pledge to the Iraqi people and the world to continue resisting oppression and occupation to our last drop of blood,'' al-Sadr said in a statement distributed by his office in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, where his al-Mahdi militia battled American troops until a cease-fire last month.

``Resistance is a legitimate right and not a crime to be punished.''

Previously, Al-Sadr had made conciliatory statements to the new government of Allawi, a fellow Shiite, and members of his movement had suggested they might transform the al-Mahdi Army into a political party. Al-Mahdi fighters accepted cease-fires in most Shiite areas after suffering huge losses at the hands of the Americans.

It was unclear what prompted his apparent reversal, though al-Sadr has made contradictory statements in the past.

In his statement Sunday, the young cleric said, "There is no truce with the occupier and those who cooperate with it."

"We announce that the current government is illegitimate and illegal," al-Sadr said. "It's generally following the occupation. We demand complete sovereignty and independence by holding honest elections."

Earlier Sunday, Allawi told America's ABC television that he had met with al-Sadr representatives "who want to try and mediate."

"The position of the government is very clear," Allawi said. "There is no room for any militias to operate inside Iraq. Anything outside law and order is not tolerated, cannot be tolerated. The rule of law should prevail."

Al-Sadr's harsh statement suggested the government may be taking a hard line with him, insisting he abolish his militia and submit to the warrant.

Although Iraq regained sovereignty last Monday, about 160,000 foreign troops, most of them Americans, remain here under a U.N. resolution to help the new government restore security.