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New Intelligence Report Says Iraq Situation Improving

U.S. officials say a new U.S. intelligence report on Iraq shows that conditions there are improving and that progress is being made toward healing political rifts.

U.S. media cited government officials as saying the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq provides a more upbeat analysis of conditions than the last assessment made in August. However, the officials said the classified document did not include the recent deadly fighting between Iraqi forces and Shi'ite militias.

The report, a collaboration by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, has been released to top administration staffers as well as members of the U.S. Congress.

Some of those lawmakers are urging the top U.S. Commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker to give an honest assessment of the situation in Iraq when they testify to lawmakers next week.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking at a news conference Thursday, urged the two officials to not attempt to portray developments in Iraq as more positive than they are.

Pelosi referred to recent fighting in the southern Iraq city of Basra in which the Iraqi military, backed by coalition forces, battled militants loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called the military crackdown a success.

Democratic House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton have also expressed concern about Iran's influence in Iraq.

Berman says he will explore Iran's role with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker.