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US underscores mission in Iraq
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The U.S.-led military mission was again justified following Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden threatened to wage more attacks on Iraq and Israel, the White House said Saturday.


"This is a reminder that the aim of Al-Qaeda in Iraq is to block democracy and freedom for all Iraqis," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.


"It also reminds us that the mission to defeat Al-Qaida in Iraq is critically important and must succeed."


In the 56-minute audiotape released on the Internet earlier Saturday, the voice that claimed to be bin Laden issued a warning against Sunni Arabs who are fighting al-Qaeda, and vowed to expand the war against Israel.


"We intend to liberate Palestine, the whole of Palestine from the (Jordan) river to the sea" with "blood for blood, destruction for destruction," the voice threatened.


It also said that Sunni Arabs who have joined the U.S.-led troops fighting al-Qaeda in the western Anbar province "have betrayed the nation and brought disgrace and shame to their people".


The tape, whose authenticity is still under verification, was the fifth of its kind released this year.


"The Iraqi people -- every day and in increasing numbers -- are choosing freedom and standing against the murderous and hateful ideology of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and we stand with them," Fratto said in the response.


However, recent surveys have showed that most Americans are in favor of ending U.S. military presence in Iraq, but opposition Democrats dominating the Congress have failed in imposing a timetable for withdrawal.


(Xinhua News Agency December 30, 2007)

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