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U.S. disbands Iraqi army unit

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    U.S. disbands Iraqi army unit From: iraq@yahoogroups.com An Iraqi national guard unit has been disbanded after it refused to attend a military training academy
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2005
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      U.S. disbands Iraqi army unit
      From: iraq@yahoogroups.com


      An Iraqi national guard unit has been disbanded after it refused to
      attend a
      military training academy overseen by US advisers, former members of
      the unit
      said on Saturday.

      The soldiers, part of a 90-strong force that calls itself the Defence
      Force of
      Rutba, said they feared reprisals from locals if they were seen to have
      cooperated with the Americans.

      Iraqi units have previously fled the front line when ordered to fight
      insurgents, but it is believed to be the first case of soldiers
      refusing to
      attend training for fear of reprisals.

      "We refused to go because we were afraid that when we came back to
      Rutba we
      would be killed," Taha Allawi, a former member of the unit, told Reuters.

      Rutba is in the far west of Iraq, close to the border with Jordan.

      "The people here would believe that we were cooperating with US forces
      and that
      is a reason for anyone to be killed."

      A US military official who oversees training said Iraqis who refused
      to attend
      courses could be dismissed, but said the decision rested with Iraq's
      Ministry of
      Defence.

      He said the unit in question was believed to be a former Iraqi
      National Guard
      unit that was due to be integrated into the Iraqi army. Its members
      had refused
      to attend the Kirkush camp where Iraqi officers run courses overseen by US
      advisers.

      "While coalition forces may have delivered the news, those decisions
      are made by
      the Ministry of Defence," said Lieutenant-Colonel Fred Wellman.

      "The United States does not disband units or dismiss soldiers."

      Iraq's Defence Ministry had no immediate comment.

      Another former soldier in the force, Ahmed Dhahi, said the
      disagreement began
      two months ago when he said the US military first raised the idea of them
      attending a training course.

      "They told us we had no right to refuse, they said the duty of
      soldiers was to
      obey orders, but we said 'We are Iraqis, not Americans, we don't
      follow orders
      from Americans'," he said.

      "We did not want the locals to think that we were working with the
      Americans and
      then threaten us."

      Mr Dhahi said that once it became clear that the unit would not
      attend, the US
      military took away their weapons, uniforms and identification tags and
      dismissed
      the force.

      Rutba, on the main highway heading to Jordan, is a predominantly Sunni
      Arab town
      with strong tribal allegiances. It has been the scene of occasional
      violence
      over the past two years, including attacks on military convoys.

      A member of Rutba's local council said the soldiers, who had been
      receiving a
      salary of around $300 a month, were right to refuse to attend the course.

      "The soldiers have all the right if they refuse to go because we
      understand the
      reason why they have taken this position," said Hamid Saleh al-Kubaisi.

      "We have tried many times over the past two months to get the Americans to
      change their order, but they have insisted that they must go. The
      council has no
      effect on anything because the Americans don't listen."

      Lt-Col Wellman said the issue was more focused on the soldiers'
      unwillingness to
      be integrated into the proper Iraqi army and potentially be deployed
      to other
      parts of the country other than Rutba and the Anbar province
      surrounding it.

      -Reuters

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