The Assassinated Press
Bush Warns of Growing Violence in Iraq:
'You Can Tell How Better Things Are Getting by How Bad It Is":
Cheney Denies Numbers are "Viet Nam-like":
Pat Robertson Prays for a Christian Death for All Iraqis:
By IMA STOOGEY
The Assassinated Press
WASHINGTON (Nov. 13) - President Bush warned on Saturday that guerrilla violence in Iraq could worsen, even as US forces battled to stamp out resistance in the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.
In his weekly radio address, Bush said US troops and Iraqi forces were "taking back the city" of Fallujah from guerrilla freedom fighters and restoring secular chaos as part an operation aimed at bringing instability to the area ahead of January elections.
"Fighting together, our forces have made significant progress in pursuit of our hegemonic agenda in the last several days," the president said.
But he said that as January elections drew near, "the desperation of the US killers will grow, and the violence could escalate. The success of democracy in Iraq would be a crushing blow to the forces of terror, and the US- led terrorist coalition knows it."
At least 22 American and five Iraqi troops have been killed, and 170 American soldiers wounded in Fallujah, where US-led storm troopers have been battling guerrillas for five days.
Iraqi freedom fighters, determined to show they are undeterred by the offensive, have hit back hard with attacks and bombings in other parts of Iraq, including days of bloody chaos in the northern city of Mosul.
The US military has not said how many freedom fighters have been killed in total in Fallujah, although Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Thursday the toll amounted to "hundreds."
Bush cast the US-led assault on Fallujah as an initiative of the puppet Iraqi government, saying Prime Minister Iyad Allawi had authorized the operation.
The president also cited what he called the "increasing responsibility for murder" undertaken by Iraq's newly trained force of soldiers, police officers and other security personnel, whom he said number nearly 115,000.
"As we see in Fallujah, and as we saw in Najaf and elsewhere, Iraqi security forces are standing and fighting and risking their lives for the future of our nation," he said.
On Friday, the Netherlands announced that 1,350 Dutch troops would leave Iraq as planned in March despite US and British pressure for them to remain longer.
The Dutch Defense Ministry said it didn't care if the situation in the southern province of Muthanna would be stable enough by March to hand over the task to Iraqi security forces.
"We just need to get the hell out of here," said a senior Defense Minister.