미국의 조지 부시 대통령은 남부 이라크와 바그다드 일원에서 격화되고 있는 전투는 자유 이라크가 결정적인 순간을 맞고 있음을 보여주는 것이라고 밝혔습니다.

부시 대통령은 28일,  현재 이 지역에서 이라크 군이 시아파 무장세력을 진압하기 위한 노력이 진행되고 있지만, 이것은 자유 사회 건설에 필요한 일부라고 말했습니다.

부시 대통령은 이라크 정부가 이런 범죄집단과 맞서 싸워야 할 것이라고 밝혔습니다. 부시 대통령은 이날 케빈 러드 호주 총리와 정상회담을 마친 후에 가진 공동기자회견에서 이같이 밝혔습니다.

최근 수일동안  이라크군과 시아파 성직자 모크타다 알-사드르의 마흐디군간의 전투로 100여명이 사망했습니다.

연합군은 이라크 지상군을 지원하기 위해 처음으로 바스라에 폭탄을 투하했습니다. 미군이 지키고 있는 바그다드의 녹색지대가 또 다시 저항세력의 공격을 받아 타레크 알-하쉐미 부통령 집무실 밖에서 경비근무중이던 2명의 이라크 인 경비원이 사망했습니다.

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President Bush says the upsurge in violence in southern Iraq and parts of Baghdad represents a "defining moment" in the history of a free Iraq.

Mr. Bush today said efforts by Iraqi forces to subdue Shi'ite militias are going to take a while, but are a necessary part of the development of a free society. He said Iraq's government must be willing to confront those criminal elements.

The president spoke at a White House news conference with the Australian prime minister as Iraq's parliament held an emergency session aimed at ending the violence in Basra and other southern Iraqi cities. That unrest has killed more than 100 people over the past few days.

Coalition forces dropped bombs in Basra today for the first time in support of Iraqi ground forces.

In Baghdad, the U.S.-protected "Green Zone" came under renewed attack, leaving two Iraqi guards dead outside Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi's office.

Latest reports from the scene indicate the vice president was not there at the time of today's attack. A thick cloud of smoke rose over the zone, which houses the U.S. embassy and much of the Iraqi government.

Militants have been bombarding the Green Zone since Sunday. At least two Americans have been killed in the attacks, and the U.S. State Department has urged all U.S. embassy personnel to stay inside reinforced buildings.

Earlier, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki extended a deadline -- due to expire today -- for Shi'ite gunmen fighting government forces to surrender their weapons. Mr. Maliki said militants will be rewarded financially if they hand over their weapons by April eighth.

The militants are mostly followers of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has called for a political solution to the crisis. Clashes between Sadr's Mahdi Army and Iraqi forces in southern Iraq and Baghdad are straining a seven-month cease-fire called by the cleric.