Iraqi authorities say a suicide car bomber killed 10 people and wounded more than two dozen others in an attack on a police convoy north of Baghdad. Meanwhile, U.S. military says at least 14 American soldiers were killed in Iraq in the first three days of June. The bloodletting comes as an ongoing build-up of U.S. troops in Iraq nears completion. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from Washington, the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad is urging patience in assessing the surge.
Despite continued violence in Iraq, Ambassador Crocker says it is too soon to pass judgment on the efficacy of the U.S. troop surge in the country.
"We are still just reaching full strength with the additional troops coming in for the surge. The last units will close [complete the surge] this month. So, it is really just starting, in June, that we will have our full force in the effort. We have also said from the beginning [that] this is going to be a hard fight, and it is. We are moving into areas we have not been before, and we are holding onto them," he said. "So, there will be good days, good weeks, and not-so-good weeks. We just have to stay steady on this and try to make a difference on the ground."
Mr. Crocker spoke on the Fox News Sunday television program.
The surge is to be fully completed in coming weeks, and the Bush administration plans to review progress in Iraq in September. Iraqi leaders say they will need more time to build up their country's armed forces and take vital political steps before they can effectively assume full control of security operations. Speaking on ABC's This Week program during a visit to the United States, President Jalal Talabani said Iraq will need the presence of U.S. troops until the end of 2008. But he predicted his government will show signs of progress on security and political matters long before then.
"We are committed to benchmarks, and I think we can achieve, in next weeks and months, an achievement that will convince public opinion of the United States that their sacrifice was not in vain," said Talabani.
The opposition-controlled U.S. Congress recently authorized new funds for the war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill was stripped of any Iraq withdrawal timeline provisions that had led President Bush to veto a previous funding bill last month. It did, however, contain goals, or benchmarks, on governance for the Iraqi government to meet.
One of the most-outspoken critics of U.S. efforts in Iraq, Democratic Congressman John Murtha, says he is tired of broken promises from Iraq's leaders.
"They keep making excuses for the lack of progress, and I am absolutely convinced right now the surge is not working," he said. "The American public wants the troops out of Iraq. Oil production below pre-war level, electricity [production] below pre-war level, and 60 percent unemployment in some parts of Iraq, I mean, there is no way you are going to have success."
Asked if the United States would bear partial responsibility for any bloodbath in Iraq in the event of a precipitous U.S. withdrawal, Murtha said that a bloodbath is taking place at present.