Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Q Well, we do have them under siege, both towns, don't we?
MR. McCLELLAN: And I would not describe it that way. First of all, we have been working very closely with Iraqi officials in those areas to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation. The coalition has been working to partner with Iraqi security forces to improve the security situation. There are a lot of developments going on, on the ground. Certainly, if coalition forces are fired upon, namely our Marines, in the case of Fallujah, they will defend themselves.
Now there are some thugs and terrorists that continue to exist in areas of Fallujah.
Q -- maybe they're just Iraqis.
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, all you have to have to do is look at the types of attacks that they carried out on innocent Americans recently to know that these are thugs and terrorists. They have no regard for human life.
Q Are we doing the same thing?
MR. McCLELLAN: We will not let them prevail. However, as I said, we are working to improve the security situation there. We're working with Iraqi leaders. You're seeing a partnering with Iraqi security forces to begin patrols in Fallujah and to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation. They've been working with civilian leaders there. But there is a difference between civilian leaders and thugs and terrorists who seek to derail the transition to democracy for the Iraqi people. And they have no place in Iraq.
Q Maybe they're defending their own country against an occupation.
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, we have liberated the Iraqi people, and we're moving forward to transfer sovereignty back to the Iraqi people, so that they can realize a free and peaceful future. As I said, this is critical to winning the war on terrorism. There are thugs and terrorists who are trying to carry out innocent attacks on innocent men, women and children. Look at what they've done, look at the attacks they've carried out that have led to the deaths of school children. Look at the attacks that they have carried out that have led to the deaths of their fellow Iraqi citizens.
Q And we haven't we killed any civilians? Have we killed any civilians?
MR. McCLELLAN: The United States military and coalition forces go out of their way to make sure that civilians are not targeted and not killed.
Q Have we killed any?
MR. McCLELLAN: We target those who seek to carry out their evil acts and seek to return to the oppressive regime of the past -- and that's not going to happen.