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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Iraqi Soldiers Blamed in Palace Looting

January 13, 2006|From the Washington Post

BAGHDAD — In the days after American forces handed over Saddam Hussein's most lavish compound to Iraqi authorities, officials in the Tikrit area say, looters ripped out doors, air conditioners, ceiling fans and light-switch plates from some of the palaces there, leaving little more than plaster and electric wires.

The U.S. handed over control of the 136-building complex, which includes 18 palaces, to Iraqi security forces Nov. 22. But the provincial governor said Iraqi soldiers responsible for the looting were part of those forces. "Thank God we were able to save the walls from the looters, because everything else was stolen," Gov. Hamid Hamoud Qaisi said by telephone.

Qaisi, like police officials, blamed Iraqi soldiers at the palaces and his own deputy.

Iraqi army commanders in and around Tikrit could not be reached for comment.

The full extent of the alleged looting could not be determined. A provincial police commander said soldiers and officials stripped at least some palaces that had been occupied by the U.S. "Also, there were some palaces not occupied by Americans," he said. "Even in those palaces, everything was gone."

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