Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the deaths of six British soldiers in Iraq and the almost daily attacks on U.S. troops are a reminder that coalition forces continue to be engaged in a dangerous war on global terror.
Secretary Rumsfeld extended his condolences to the families of American and British soldiers who have died recently in Iraq.
"Their deaths are a sober reminder that while major combat in Iraq and Afghanistan is over, our country and coalition forces remain engaged in a difficult and dangerous war the global war on terror. That war will not be over anytime soon," Mr. Rumsfeld said.
General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said coalition forces must not falter in their efforts to bring stability to Iraq. "As the secretary said these losses are a reminder that Iraq remains a dangerous place. But we must continue to stand firm. Our forces role in establishing and maintaining security is critical to the stability and security of Iraq and also to our war on terrorism," General Myers said.
Secretary Rumsfeld told reporters coalition forces have captured 32 out of the 55 most wanted Iraqis and two others on the list have been killed.
Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers did not provide much new detail regarding a Special Forces operation last week near the Iraqi border with Syria.
U.S. commandos from the "Task Force 20" group that has been tracking down high-ranking officials of Saddam Hussein's regime blasted a convoy of cars that was violating a curfew in the middle of the night.
Initial reports suggested the raid may have killed top Iraqi officials, but Secretary Rumsfeld said he has no reason to believe any senior officials were killed.
Five Syrian nationals were injured in the fighting and three are being treated by U.S. forces.
Mr. Rumsfeld said a process is being worked out to return the Syrians to their home country.