U.S. President George W. Bush says victory by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is certain, but not yet complete. The president says the coalition must now start what he called the difficult work of helping the Iraqi people build a free country. U.S. forces in Iraq still have a lot of work to do. Brian Purchia has the latest.
U.S troops have found a weapons cache in a hospital in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit—the site of this week’s final military confrontation between U.S. and Iraqi forces.
NAT U.S. SOLDIER
"It's not really surprising; we found other caches along the way, not my company but other companies, other units, almost as large as this, but this is the first one we found in a hospital."
U.S. forces in Tikrit are also searching for holdout Iraqi fighters and leaders even as coalition efforts shift to non-military goals such as providing aid and security.
"We are currently here to prevent any looting and to prevent any more (Iraqi) military coming into this area. We are currently trying to flush out any Saddam Fedayeen troops, any Iraqi military, anybody that are Saddam sympathizers that will assist them."
U.S. soldiers are conducting similar operations in Baghdad. Marines raided rooms in the Palestine Hotel, the home base for most foreign journalists covering the war in Iraq. One news report says several arrests were made.
U.S. defense officials are beginning to scale back some military operations. Two aircraft battle groups in the Arabian Sea are going back to their bases, and radar-evading stealth bombers (B-2's) have already returned to the United States.
The U.S. Central Command says all the oil well fires in Iraq have been put out. But so much more needs to be done.
The southern Iraqi town of Safwan is an example of the challenges that Iraqis face. It has no electricity, no water, no police, no local government, and no functioning school.
But Central Command spokesman Brigadier General Vincent Brooks says the Iraqi people are beginning to help themselves.
BRIGADIER GENERAL VINCENT BROOKS, CENTRAL COMMAND
“The Iraqi people have gone beyond celebrating their newfound freedom to beginning to work with the coalition to repair the infrastructure, the government and public works in their country.”
In Safwan, U.S. and local authorities hope to restore water and electricity, ensure no weapons are carried in public, and eventually train an Iraqi auxiliary police force with limited powers to patrol alongside British military police.