Iraqi chief of staff: Early withdrawal of int'l troops would lead to disaster

Iraq's top general on Thursday warned that an early withdrawal of international troops would result in a catastrophe, but insisted Iraq was not embroiled in a civil war. Military chief of staff Gen. Babaker Shawkat Zebari told reporters during a brief visit to Denmark that there was no fixed timetable for the Iraqi military to take over security responsibilities from US-led forces. "There will be no date, we will try to make the transition as quickly as possible," he said through a translator. "Any premature withdrawal from Iraq would result in a disaster," he said. "The world's terrorist groups have gathered in Iraq, so isn't it better for the Europeans to fight terror in Iraq before it comes to them?" Zebari said a recent spate of violence, including the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shi'ite mosque in Iraq that led to the deaths of hundreds in reprisal attacks, did not mean the country was in the midst of a civil war. "It's in no way a civil war, all politicians and religious leaders are working to prevent that," he said. Zebari had been visiting Germany, and decided to do an eight-hour stopover in Denmark. The Defense Ministry said it was a courtesy visit to Danish military leaders with no specific agenda. Denmark has 530 troops stationed in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.