Pentagon praises Iraqi 'intent' in going after militiamen

April 2, 2008 11:08:21 AM PDT
The Pentagon's top military official on Wednesday said it was too soon to say who won and who lost in last week's Iraqi government offensive in the southern city of Basra, but he praised the fact that the government attempted it. "We've been looking forward to a time when the Iraqi security forces would in fact take the lead and be aggressive in terms of providing for their own security," said Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. "So from that standpoint, that strategic intent was very positive."

He said the effort was planned and led by the Iraqis and that U.S. forces provided logistical help in the way of intelligence and air support.

U.S. special advisers embedded with Iraqi forces were there with the Iraqis during the offensive, he said, though he declined to say how many U.S. troops participated.

Mullen also said there are no plans to add any additional U.S. forces in Iraq despite recent violence, and that plans are still on track to continue withdrawing troops through the end of July.

Asked if he thought the Iraqi offensive against militiamen in Barsa was a success, Mullen said it was too soon to evaluate.

"I'm not prepared to say who won or who didn't," he told a Pentagon news conference. "I think it was significant in the fact that they really took a step forward to provide for there own."