U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has warned against a quick U.S. pullout from Iraq, saying terrorists will take over the country.
In an opinion piece in "The Washington Post" newspaper Sunday, Rumsfeld insisted such a withdrawal would be the modern equivalent of handing Germany back to the Nazis.
He says there is every reason to believe Saddam loyalists and terrorists will fill the vacuum if U.S. forces leave Iraq.
Rumsfeld's comments came as anti-war protesters in several countries held demonstrations to mark the third annivesary of the U.S-led invasion of Iraq.
Separately, former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told British television Iraq is in a state of civil war that threatens to spread throughout the Middle East. Sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of a Shi'ite shrine last month has killed hundreds of people.
Meanwhile, Iraqi police say U.S. forces killed at least seven people Sunday after coming under fire in the Sunni town of Duluiya, about 90 kilometers north of Baghdad.
In his national radio address Saturday, President Bush called on Iraqi leaders to form a government that can confront the terrorist threat and earn the confidence of all Iraqis.
Mr. Bush said recent violence has created a sense of urgency among Iraqi leaders to put aside their differences and reach across political, sectarian and religious lines.
Information for this report is provided by REUTERS and AFP.