vowed victory. As to US causalities, they worth nothing as they serve Israel.
Associated France Press 27-10-2006
US casualties surge as Bush vows victory
by Dave Clark
Thu Oct 26, 1:57 PM ET
BAGHDAD (AFP) - The number of US troops killed in Iraq hit its highest monthly toll in a year, as American soldiers scoured war-torn Baghdad for a kidnapped comrade.
The news that four US marines and a sailor were killed Wednesday came after US President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki insisted their plan to pacify the country was on track.
The deaths brought the number of GIs killed in the first three and half weeks of the month to 96 -- more than at any time since October 2005 -- as US troops faced tough fighting in several regions.
Meanwhile, at least eight Iraqi policemen were killed in battles with insurgents near Baquba north of the capital, police and medical sources said.
US military spokesman Major William Caldwell attributed the spate of US deaths in western Iraq to an intense battle to recapture the city of Ramadi from insurgents.
"It's an aggressive offensive approach to take back the city of Ramadi to return it back to Iraqi security force control," he said, without elaborating on how the latest casualties were killed.
Iraq's post-Ramadan holiday ended Thursday and US commanders have pinned their hopes on the end to the Islamic holy period seeing a downturn in the violence that threatens to rip the country apart.
Caldwell said that there did seem to have been a drop in the number of murders in Baghdad, particularly in the limited areas of the city which have been cleared by a joint US-Iraqi security plan.
The falling death toll could also be due to an increased US military presence on the streets as they hunt for one of their comrades, a soldier of Iraqi descent who was abducted on Monday, he said.
US troops equipped with 17-tonne Stryker armored vehicles set up checkpoints on the approaches to Sadr City, a militia bastion where commanders suspect the kidnapped American is being held.
Differences over how to deal with the Shiite gunmen who control Sadr City have strained ties between Washington and Baghdad, but both Bush and Maliki on Wednesday promised victory against extremist factions.
"I know many Americans are not satisfied with the situation in Iraq. I'm not satisfied, either," Bush told a surprise news conference a fortnight away from key midterm US congressional elections.
"But we cannot allow our dissatisfaction to turn into disillusionment about our purpose in this war. We're winning and we will win, unless we leave before the job is done," he said, in a swipe at critics calling for a troop pull-out.
Bush's determined defence of his policies was mirrored in Baghdad by a nettled Maliki, who insisted that he remained determined to disarm the gangs behind Sunni-Shiite bloodletting.
"We will strike hard against those who break the law and endanger state security. There is no place for militias alongside the state," he said.
Bush endorsed Maliki, who has recently been criticized by some US lawmakers and commentators for failing to take on powerful Shiite armed groups linked to his ruling Iraqi coalition.
"I do believe Prime Minister Maliki is the right man to achieve the goal in Iraq," Bush said, adding that the US would stand by him as long as he makes "the hard decisions" to stabilize his country.
But Bush also made it clear that US support is dependent on Iraq following an agreed timetable of benchmarks in political action to quell the fighting, warning: "We've got patience, but not unlimited patience."
Such US pressure has provoked Maliki to anger. On Wednesday, he insisted no one has the right to impose any timeframe on Iraq's elected government.
"Everyone knows that this government is a government of the popular will and no one may set a timetable for it," he said testily at his news conference.
Tension between Maliki's unity government and the US, which still has 142,000 troops in Iraq, surfaced again Wednesday when Maliki criticized a US-led raid on a Shiite militia stronghold.
He demanded an investigation after US military advisers and Iraqi special forces raided addresses in Sadr City, which is controlled by radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.
Sadr has many supporters in the government, and Maliki wants a political solution to the crisis provoked by several thousand Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad clashing regularly with US and Iraqi forces.
The US command said the raid, which Iraq says killed four civilians, aimed to destroy a death squad and rescue the kidnapped US soldier, and that fighting only erupted when the assault team was ambushed.
The US military said Thursday the assault team had arrested 13 "suspected death squad members," killed 10 and wounded two, while "possible civilian casualties could not be assessed due to the hostile conditions."