Excerpts from U.S. progress report on Iraq

July 15, 2007 - 0:0

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush sent to Congress a report showing mixed progress in Iraq six months after he ordered more U.S. troops. Following are excerpts from the report released on Thursday.

-- "While all of those conditions have not yet been met, and the new strategy is still in its early stages, there are some encouraging signs that should, over time, point the way to a more normalized and sustainable level of U.S. engagement in Iraq, with a decreasing number of U.S. combat forces increasingly focused on a core set of missions, such as those set out by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group." -- "The security situation in Iraq remains complex and extremely challenging." -- "As a result of increased offensive operations, Coalition and Iraqi Forces have sustained increased attacks in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad, Diyala, and Salah ad Din. Tough fighting should be expected through the summer as Coalition and Iraqi Forces seek to seize the initiative from early gains and shape conditions for longer-term stabilization." -- "Since January of this year, AQI (al Qaeda in Iraq) has proven its resiliency and ability to conduct high-profile, mass-casualty attacks, mostly targeting Shi'a population centers through suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIEDs) attacks." -- "The number of suicide and SVBIED attacks in March and April approached all-time highs, further exacerbating sectarian tension and making political deals more difficult to close. These incidents have shown a decrease in May and June ... We should expect, however, that AQI will attempt to increase its tempo of attacks as September approaches -- in an effort to influence U.S. domestic opinion about sustained U.S. engagement in Iraq." -- "Effective steps toward national reconciliation will require national leadership from all communities and expression of a common national political will, or 'vision,' that has so far been lacking. The consensus nature of Iraqi politics, and the checks and balances built into the Iraqi governance structure, inhibit Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's ability to govern effectively -- and would pose obstacles to any prime minister." -- "We continue to assess that nearly 80 percent of suicide bombers are foreign fighters -- with the vast majority traveling to Iraq through Syria -- and to Syria from their home countries by air travel to Damascus. This Syria-based network is able to supply some 50 to 80 suicide bombers to AQI per month. Since January, there have been nearly 280 suicide events in Iraq, accounting for nearly 5,500 casualties, mostly innocent Iraqis going about their daily lives." -- "Government revenue is steady due to high oil prices, but the Iraqi Government has not yet made needed investments to increase oil and refining output.