Resistance getting stronger: CIA

London Nov. 13. The Iraqi resistance to the coalition forces is getting `stronger' and could get out of control, the CIA is reported to have warned, according to a front-page report in The Guardian today.

Quoting intelligence sources in Washington, the newspaper said the CIA had given a "bleak assessment'' of the situation in Iraq describing the resistance as "broad, strong and getting stronger''. "It says we are going to lose the situation unless there is a rapid and dramatic change of course,'' the report said adding that resistance fighters were not confined to the Ba'athist hardcore, but were in their `thousands'.

"There are thousands in the resistance.... and growing every day. Not all those people are actually firing, but providing support, shelter and all that,'' it said. The newspaper said the report was commissioned by the CIA director, George Tenet, and carried an `endorsement' by the head of the U.S.-coalition authority in Iraq, Paul Bremer. In an interview to The Times earlier this week, Mr Bremer had warned of more `terrorist' attacks and admitted that Iraqis wanted the occupation of their country to end quickly. According to media reports, he is understood to be `concerned' that a large-scale U.S. offensive against the `insurgents' was likely to increase public support for the resistance.

The deteriorating situation in Iraq with focus on an honourable exit strategy is likely to dominate talks between the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and the U.S. President, George W. Bush, during his three-day visit to Britain next week. security operations ahead of President Bush's visit which is set to see massive protests by anti-war and civil rights campaigners.