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'Iraq not on verge of civil war'

The commander of US-led forces in Iraq has said that Iraq is not on the verge of civil war despite recent violence.

world Updated: Jan 07, 2006 14:58 IST

The commander of US-led forces in Iraq has said that Iraq was not on the verge of civil war despite recent violence and persistent sectarian tensions in the country.

"They're in a vulnerable period during the formation of the government, but I don't think it's on the brink of civil war," General George Casey told the US television channel CNN in an interview on Friday.

A rise in violent attacks by insurgents this week was "an anomaly," Casey said.

"I think we can't let what's happened in the last few days distract us from the progress that's been made over the last year. That's what the terrorists want," the general said.

In one of the bloodiest days since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, more than 115 Iraqis and 11 US soldiers were killed on Thursday in five separate attacks across the country.

Iraqi political leaders condemned the spike in unrest as an attempt to derail the creation of a unity government after last month's elections.

Casey said there were "clearly sectarian tensions" but the widespread turnout of Sunnis in the December parliamentary elections represented a "hopeful trend."

Another US general said a suicide bombing in Ramadi on Thursday that killed 67 people bore the telltale signs of Al-Qaeda.

"We don't have any evidence that it was Al-Qaeda, but the people (in Ramadi) sure believe it was and blame it," General Stephen Johnson, commander of US forces in Iraq's western region, told reporters in a teleconference.