The United States on Wednesday warned of "real consequences" for Iraq if it rejects a newly negotiated security pact. Without a deal, U.S. military operations could be forced to end.

The White House said Iraqi security forces are incapable of keeping the peace without U.S. troops, raising the specter of reversals in recent security and political gains if the proposed security deal is not approved by the time the U.N. mandate that authorizes U.S. military operations expires Dec. 31.

"There will be no legal basis for us to continue operating there without that," said White House press secretary Dana Perino. "And the Iraqis know that. ... And if they don't, there will be real consequences, if Americans aren't able to operate there."


Military prosecutors argued Wednesday that the first soldier accused of killing a direct superior in Iraq told other soldiers he wanted to "burn" his company commander. New York National Guard Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez was frustrated with Capt. Phillip Esposito, a by-the-book West Point graduate who took over a relaxed National Guard unit, the prosecutor told jurors at Martinez's Fort Bragg, N.C., court-martial. Martinez could be sentenced to death.

Martinez, 41, of Troy, N.Y., is accused of planting a anti-personnel mine that detonated June 7, 2005, in a window of Esposito's room at Saddam Hussein's Water Palace in Tikrit. Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis Allen, also a National Guard officer in the 42nd Infantry Division, were playing the board game Risk when the mine exploded. They died of their wounds the next day.


Nine Afghan soldiers were killed and three wounded by a U.S. airstrike on an Afghan Army checkpoint Wednesday in an apparent friendly fire incident in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan and U.S. military officials said.

The predawn airstrike occurred after a convoy of coalition troops came under fire as they returned to their base in Khost Province. Coalition soldiers called for air support after exchanging fire with Afghan troops near an Afghan Army checkpoint in the Sayed Kheil area in what U.S. military officials said could be "a case of mistaken identity on both sides."