President Bush on Wednesday warned there will be an upsurge in violence in Iraq before next month's voting, but said the terrorists will fail. "Our troops are ready for them," he said.
Bush's remarks in the Rose Garden came a day after Iraqi and U.S. forces announced they had killed Abdullah Abu Azzam, the No. 2 al-Qaida leader in Iraq, during a weekend raid in Baghdad.
"This guy's a brutal killer," Bush said.
Al-Qaida in Iraq issued an Internet statement denying that Abu Azzam was its deputy leader, calling him "one of al-Qaida's many soldiers" and "the leader of one its battalions operating in Baghdad." The U.S.-led coalition, however, called Abu Azzam the mastermind of an escalation in suicide bombings that have killed nearly 700 people in Baghdad since April.
"We can expect they'll do everything in their power to try to stop the march of freedom," Bush said. "And our troops are ready for it."
Bush spoke following a meeting with Gen. George Casey, the top commander in Iraq, and Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. Central Command. He said he has dispatched the two generals to Capitol Hill to brief members on the war on terrorism and operations in Iraq.
"The support of Congress for our troops and our mission is important and Americans need to know about the gains we have made in recent weeks and months, they need to know the way we're adapting our tactics, and the way we're changing our strategies to meet the needs on the ground," Bush said.