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Police adviser: Snafu in Najaf

Blast kills four Iraqis near Baghdad's 'Green Zone'

Car bomb explodes near the Baghdad Green Zone.

A firefight erupts in Kufa between U.S. troops clashed and insurgents.

Soldier's death being investigated as a war crime.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- An American adviser said the U.S. Army "dropped the ball" by providing inadequate accommodations for Iraqi police officers who were to begin joint patrols with coalition troops in Najaf on Sunday.

About 100 police officers arrived in Najaf on Saturday to help calm the Shiite Muslim holy city, which has been besieged by fighting between U.S. forces and a militia loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

But when coalition troops arrived the next day to begin the joint patrols, the Iraqis were gone.

The Iraqis left their posts because they felt they received second-class treatment when they arrived from Baghdad, the American adviser said Monday.

The U.S. adviser said no sleeping arrangements had been made for the Iraqis, they had no personal gear for their duties or changes of clothes, and they were given military rations for meals that included pork. Muslims are forbidden to eat pork.

"They were not even given a mattress to sleep on," the adviser said. "The U.S. Army really dropped the ball here."

U.S. military spokesman Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt acknowledged what he called "logistics problems," saying those would be straightened out quickly.

"We expect that over the next day or two after those arrangements are made they'll be down there," he said. "To suggest that they deserted is just not consistent with the facts."

Coalition officials said they eventually hope to turn over security in Najaf to Iraqi police, a measure called for by an agreement reached between al-Sadr and other Shiite leaders.

That agreement called for U.S. forces and al-Sadr's Mehdi Army to withdraw from the area -- a provision the coalition military rejected because they said it would create a "security vacuum."

Instead, they halted offensive operations in the region and made plans to bring in the Iraqi police, training with them extensively last week.

Despite the declared truce in the Najaf area, a firefight erupted over the weekend in nearby Kufa when U.S. troops clashed with insurgents loyal to al-Sadr, the U.S. forces' commanding officer said.

Two U.S. soldiers and about 45 insurgents were killed in the fighting Sunday evening, according to the U.S. military.

South of Baghdad, a U.S. soldier was killed and two others wounded Sunday when a makeshift bomb struck a vehicle, the coalition said.

'Green Zone' bomb kills four

A car bomb outside Baghdad's "Green Zone," headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition, killed four Iraqis and wounded 25 others Monday, Kimmitt said.

The force of the explosion left a large crater, blew out nearby store windows and burned out two cars and damaged three others.

Iraqi police said a motorcade carrying Prime Minister-designate Iyad Allawi had passed by the blast site minutes before the bomb went off Monday afternoon.

A spokesman for Allawi appeared skeptical, saying he did not believe the Iraqi Governing Council member ever used that route to enter the Green Zone, a heavily fortified area in central Baghdad that houses the Coalition Provisional Authority.

No U.S. troops were among the casualties, said U.S. military spokesman Maj. Philip Smith.

Kimmitt said no evidence suggested the blast was targeting anyone in particular. "No significant Iraqi leaders were in the area when the bomb went off," he said.

Coalition military spokesman Col. Mike Murray said the road is commonly used by coalition forces and members of the U.S.-appointed governing council traveling to the Green Zone.

A May 17 blast along the same road killed Iraqi Governing Council President Izzedine Salim.

No decisions on interim regime

U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will announce the makeup of Iraq's interim government when he's ready, a coalition spokesman said Monday amid reports the coalition was clashing with the Iraqi Governing Council over who should hold the largely ceremonial post of president.

Spokesman Dan Senor refused to comment on reports that the United States backed Adnan Pachachi for president, while most of the council preferred Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer.

"As for the candidates, I would defer to Mr. Brahimi," Senor said, referring to the U.N. official's role in helping select the interim government. "When he's ready to make a formal announcement, he will. He's indicated he will be in the position in the next few days to do that."

Senor referred to information coming from the council about government positions -- including Friday's announcement that Allawi would be the prime minister in the interim government -- as the council's "endorsement" of candidates.

"Iraq is now a free country," Senor said. "Many individuals and organizations will have different views about who should rule this country either in formal announcements, as the [council] has done, or in individual consultations with Mr. Brahimi."

Pachachi, a former foreign minister, and al-Yawer, a civil engineer who fled Iraq in the early 1990s, are both Sunni Muslims and members of the council.

Other developments

  • Speaking at a Memorial Day ceremony in Baghdad, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. general in Iraq, paid tribute to fallen comrades by telling troops that Americans have "faithfully answered our nation's call to arms" for more than 200 years -- to defend the United States, "to free other people and to let them enjoy the freedoms that we have become accustomed to since the founding of our nation."
  • CNN's Guy Raz, reporter Mohammed Sharif in Najaf and Eden Pontz in London contributed to this report.

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