|There have been 1,915 coalition troop deaths, 1,729 Americans, 89 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, one Dane, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Hungarian, 25 Italians, one Kazakh, one Latvian, 17 Poles, one Salvadoran, three Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians in the war in Iraq as of June 24, 2005.|
|Donald Rumsfeld has said the US is not losing the Iraq war and it would be a mistake to set a timetable for American troops to leave the country. |
To set a deadline would "send a lifeline to terrorists", he told House and Senate committees.
But the US top Gulf commander General John Abizaid told the same Senate committee more foreign fighters were coming into Iraq than six months ago.
The hearings come amid waning public support in the US for the war.
A series of bombings in Iraq late on Wednesday and early on Thursday killed at least 30 people in Baghdad, while a recent opinion poll showed that 51% of Americans now think the invasion two years ago was a mistake.
I would say there is a clear node inside Syria which facilitates [the entering of insurgents]"
General Abizaid, Gulf commander
"I believe there are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago," Gen Abizaid told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
He said suicide bombers from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco were entering Iraq via Syria, joining others from Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
"I would say there is a clear node inside Syria which facilitates it. Whether or not the Syrian government is facilitating it or ignoring it is probably a debatable question, but the key node is Damascus," he said.
Democrat Senator Carl Levin has suggested that the view is at odds with Vice-President Cheney's view that the insurgency was in its last throes.
Need for patience
A small bipartisan group in Congress has proposed a resolution calling on President George W Bush to start bringing home US troops from Iraq by 1 October 2006.
But Mr Rumsfeld said that timing in war was not predictable and there were no guarantees.
"And any who say that we've lost this war, or that we're losing this war are wrong. We are not," he told senators.
Setting a date for withdrawal would "send a lifeline to terrorists", he said.
Insurgents "have suffered significant losses in casualties, been denied havens, and suffered weakened popular support" in recent months, he added.
Leaving before the task is complete would be catastrophic
Gen Richard Myers
Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff
There was still a way to go, he said, but progress was being made.
"Success will not be easy and it will require patience... But consider what has been accomplished in 12 months," he said, mentioning the elections in January, economic improvements, and improvements in Iraq's security force.
Democrat Senator Edward Kennedy said that Mr Rumsfeld's predictions had been wrong in the past and repeated calls for him to resign.
But Mr Rumsfeld was backed by Gen Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told the panel that "leaving before the task is complete would be catastrophic".
The US has 135,000 troops in Iraq. The Pentagon says it has trained and equipped some 168,500 Iraqi police and military personnel.
However, the continuing violence had led some US commanders to scale back optimistic predictions that US troop numbers could be reduced any time soon, says the BBC's diplomatic correspondent, Jonathan Marcus.
And while Iraq's new security forces are growing in number, their effectiveness remains very much in doubt, our correspondent adds.
|In his rounds on the Sunday talk shows this morning, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld revisited his "long hard slog" mantra, saying that the U.S. might have troops in Iraq for many years to come.|
Rumsfeld: U.S. could be in Iraq for years (UPI)
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Sunday said U.S. troops may be needed in Iraq for years to fight insurgents and to help the Iraqi people win. "We`re not going to win against the insurgency, the Iraqi people will win against the insurgency," Rumsfeld said on "Fox News Sunday," one of three network television news programs he appeared on.
He downplayed an ABC News poll that showed 65 percent of respondents think the U.S. is bogged down and lacks a clear plan to get out of Iraq. Rumsfeld said war is a "tough, dirty business" and the media was focusing on negatives. "It`s just the reporting of the nature of war. It`s a tough business. It`s a terrible business," Rumsfeld said on "ABC`s This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
Rumsfeld Says Iraq Insurgency May Go on for `Years' (Bloomberg)
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said insurgent violence in Iraq may continue for a decade or longer and it will be up to the Iraqi forces, rather than U.S. troops, to end it. ``That insurgency could go on for any number of years,'' Rumsfeld said on the ``Fox News Sunday'' program today. ``Coalition forces, foreign forces are not going to repress that insurgency. We're going to create an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win against that insurgency.''
One hopes that's accomplished sooner rather than later. Having a U.S. advisory force or even a small garrison might be useful to that end. I can't imagine that the continuation of a force approaching the current size will be helpful once a permanent government is in place in Iraq, though. There's no way to be taken seriously as a sovereign power with a large foreign military presence, especially one perceived by many as an army of occupation.