Anger and resentment at America's presence in the country are being fueled by the "sweep" operations of U.S. Troops in search of suspects and Iraqi prisoners languishing in U.S.[-run] jails, according to political and human rights activists.

They said U.S. troops storm homes, arrest women and children, and use "oppression" on a scale not seen even under the long reign of former dictator Saddam Hussein.

"The occupier is carrying out arrests and sweeps which have no precedent, even in the darkest tales of former regime’s intelligence services," said Ali al-Sibahi of the National Salvation Council.

He said U.S. troops ignored basic human rights in their fight against a growing insurgency, fuelled mainly by Iraqi resentment of these very practices.

"They (U.S. troops) do not carry follow the instructions of Iraqi judges investigating innocent Iraqis languishing behind bars," he added.

The fate of Iraqis arrested by mistake or for expressing their opinions "is at the forefront of issues in need of a quick solution," Sibahi said.

"Among those arrested are children and women. During these sweeps, soldiers detonate doors and gates. Soldiers are dropped from helicopters onto the roofs of houses.

"These are practices we never saw before, even during the worst days of the former regime. The oppressive methods used now surpass those perpetrated by the intelligence organs of the former regime," he said.

He said that for months, many families have lost all contact with their detained relatives and "the same thing happened in the former days" of Saddam Hussein, he said.

But Sibahi said Iraqis were most furious when girls and women are taken away by U.S. troops.

"Don't they (Americans) understand that we are a conservative society with religious traditions and Arab customs that respect women? We are a society which is ready to redeem its women with blood," he said.

Occupation troops in the country are immune from prosecution under Iraqi laws and the authorities seem powerless in dealing with widespread complaints about their practices.

Sibahi said a conference would be held in Baghdad to discuss the fate of the detainees in U.S. hands.

"All those arrested for their political beliefs, without proof or a trial, must be freed immediately," he said.

Abduljabbar Saleem of Iraq’s Liberation Party requested, "the freeing of all political prisoners, particularly women and children, in American jails and prisons."

"Recently, arrests and sweeps have increased, and many of those held are prisoners of conscience, and the tragedy is that women and children are involved," he said.

Jassem al-Isawi said most of the arrests made in Iraq "are illegal," as the detainees never appear before a court of law and are held without proper prosecution.