let's hear andrew dolt's spin on this

  1. 2,785 Posts.
    Baghdad worse than ever: Hill
    By Patrick Walters
    December 6, 2004

    ROBERT Hill has learnt first-hand the new perils involved in visiting strife-torn Baghdad.

    Protected ... Sen Hill meets Australian troops inside Iraq. Pic courtesy the Australian Defence Force.

    Such has been the escalation of violence in the run-up to the January 30 elections that for the first time in four visits, Australia's Defence Minister could not make it to the centre of the Iraqi capital last Friday.

    So dangerous has the main highway to and from the airport become, with daily suicide bombings, Senator Hill did not visit the Australian embassy or the Green Zone that comprises the headquarters of the US-led coalition forces in Iraq.

    "This is the first time I've been unable to do that. It's very dangerous - a number of countries are no longer travelling along it," Senator Hill told The Australian yesterday.

    "I would have (travelled into central Baghdad) if we'd had a helicopter, but they were being used for more important tasks."

    Senator Hill's visit coincided with a surge of violence in Iraq that killed more than 60 people over the weekend and led senior UN official Lakhdar Brahimi to warn that holding elections would be "impossible" in the current security environment.

    Senator Hill acknowledged Iraq's central area, including Baghdad, was going through a "very difficult phase".

    "I would say it's more violent than on any of my previous visits," he said.

    "It's a more dangerous place than it's been since the downfall of Saddam (Hussein's) regime. The insurgency is really quite intensive and extensive."

    Instead of making the hazardous run into the city, Senator Hill travelled in an armoured convoy to the US-run Camp Victory, a short distance from Baghdad airport.

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