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Australia's Iraq war prime minister criticizes US handling of bloody aftermath of overthrow

John Howard, the Australian prime minister who sent troops to support U.S. and British forces in the Iraq invasion a decade ago, has criticized U.S. handling of the bloody aftermath of dictator Saddam Hussein's overthrow.

In a speech in Sydney to mark the 10th anniversary of the fall of Baghdad on April 14, Howard on Tuesday said that disbanding the Iraqi Army "was a mistake" and that efforts to remove Hussein's Baath Party from civil service "went too far."

He says in a speech, released by his office, that the American interim administration that replaced Hussein "held sway for too long" and the U.S. cut troop levels too soon.

A staunch ally of U.S. President George W. Bush, Howard angered many Australians by sending 2,000 troops to invade Iraq.