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New Measures To Restore Order In Iraq

A U.S. Marine arrests a suspected looter in the streets of Baghdad as the U.S. troops search the city to arrest looters and try to bring order to the Iraqi capital, April 13, 2003.
AP
Hundreds of Iraqi men turned out at a Baghdad police academy Monday to volunteer for police duty and patrols with U.S. troops as calm appeared to be returning to some parts of the Iraqi capital, and some other cities.

Looting in Baghdad seemed to be easing as Marines took sporadic but tough new measures to stop it. Most stores and government offices in the capital remained closed. Residents were seen collecting and burning garbage and buses were running, packed with passengers.

However, Baghdad's Islamic Library was on fire Monday afternoon. It was not immediately known if the fire, like many others in Baghdad, was set by looters who have wracked the capital since the fall of President Saddam Hussein's regime last week.

At the Iraqi police academy, men in plainclothes and uniform gathered in response to a call by a coalition-run Arabic language radio station and Arab satellite TV to take part in joint patrols, which were expected to begin as quickly as possible.

They registered their names upon entering the academy, as U.S. Marines on sentry duty watched.

Police Lt. Col. Haitham al-Ani said the U.S. troops and the Iraqis would patrol in separate cars and that the Iraqi police would not be allowed to carry guns initially.

Local men, desperate to see calm return, helped the Marines translate and point out the guilty.

"I came here thinking I wouldn't need any Arabic at all — just 'Put your hands up' and 'Put your weapons down,'" Marine Sgt. Steven Christopher said. "They've been teaching me how to talk to the thieves. Things like, 'You are lying, I'm not stupid,' and 'If you steal, we will kill you.'"

Some local residents resent that U.S. troops who largely stood by and allowed the looting to continue since rolling into Baghdad last week. Presidential palaces, government ministries and the Iraq National Museum — the repository of the nation's cultural heritage — have been stripped bare.

But British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Monday that coalition forces must put their own safety before any duty to restore law and order in Iraq. Straw warned of possible attacks by armed gangs on American and British troops.

"Disorder is always disturbing," Straw told British Broadcasting Corp. radio, speaking from the Gulf state of Bahrain. "It is a responsibility of the people who are in control, the U.S., U.K. troops, to try and deal with it.

"However, any troops have to ensure their own safety and security from armed gangs before they can start any policing activities. This is not a benign policing environment."

Elsewhere, traffic police were recalled to patrol neighborhoods alongside British troops in the southern port of Basra.

U.S. military personnel met with tribesmen, political and religious leaders Sunday to discuss ways to restore law and order in Kirkuk.

In his daily briefing Monday, Central Command spokesman Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said 200 Iraqi volunteers were now patrolling the streets in Karbala, south of Baghdad.

Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, was calm, with U.S. troops controlling the airport and guarding bridges as well as key intersections. In the old city center, civilians stood at checkpoints armed with guns, clubs and metal pipes.