- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 16, 2004

From combined dispatches

LONDON — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in an interview yesterday with BBC World Service Radio, said the U.S. decision to invade Iraq in March 2003 was “illegal.”

“I’m one of those who believe that there should have been a second resolution” from the U.N. Security Council to green-light the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime, Mr. Annan said.

He added: “I’ve indicated that it was not in conformity with the U.N. charter from our point of view, and from the charter point of view, it was illegal.”

Mr. Annan also said that, given the current level of violence and unrest, it was unlikely that Iraq would be able to hold credible elections as planned in January 2005.

“I think there have been lessons for the U.S. and lessons for the U.N. and other member states,” Mr. Annan said.

“I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time.”

The interview was likely to reignite debate over whether President Bush acted within the bounds of international law after failing to get one last U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq.

The council had adopted a number of resolutions over the years to compel Saddam to abandon the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

The last one was adopted in November 2002, when U.N. inspectors re-entered Iraq, warning Saddam’s regime of “serious consequences” if it was found to be in material breach of the earlier resolutions.

In Iraq yesterday, villagers found three decapitated bodies north of Baghdad and a car bomb killed two persons at an Iraqi military checkpoint south of the capital.

The bodies were found in nylon bags, the heads in bags alongside them, near Dijiel, about 25 miles north of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said. They were all men with tattoos, including one with the letter “H” on his arm, but no documents were found on them, he said.

A U.S. military official said the bodies appeared to be Iraqis and had their hands tied behind their backs.

Also yesterday, 10 persons were killed and six wounded in clashes between insurgents and U.S. forces in Ramadi, a predominantly Sunni Muslim city west of the capital where anti-American sentiments are high, a Health Ministry official said.

A Marine assigned to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force was killed while conducting security operations in Anbar province Tuesday, the military said.

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