President Marks 100 Days Since the End of Major Combat in Iraq
At his Texas ranch with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, President Bush told reporters, “We’ve made good progress. Iraq is more secure. The economy of Iraq is beginning to improve.”
The president also mourned the loss of American lives.
“We suffer when we lose life,” the president said. “Our country is a country that grieves with those who sacrifice.” In the past 100 days 119 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq, according to the latest military figures; 56 were killed in combat.
In western Baghdad today, a U.S. soldier died from a gunshot wound, but officials did not say whether the cause was an accident or hostile fire.
To the north, U.S. forces killed two Iraqis who they said were selling weapons in Saddam Hussein’s hometown, Tikrit.
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell said the men were unloading weapons and what appeared to be bomb-making materials.
The FBI, meanwhile, dispatched a forensics team to investigate Thursday’s bombing at the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad. The death toll from that attack rose to 19 people; 65 were injured.
During his press appearance, President Bush cited the reopening of banks, improving infrastructure and building a democracy as some of the accomplishments in Iraq.
The president did not comment on how long he thought U.S. forces would stay in Iraq. On Thursday, the commander of coalition forces in Iraq, Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, said he expected U.S. forces to remain in Iraq for at least two years.
President Bush did mention the generosity of other countries and promised to prove a “well thought-out” cost estimate to Congress.
“I will do what’s necessary to win the war on terror,” President Bush said. He encouraged Americans to understand that he will “not forget the lessons of Sept. 11.”
Following the press briefing, White House staffers released a 24-page document outlining the administration’s accomplishments in Iraq called, Results in Iraq: 100 Days Toward Security and Freedom.