A major military operation to rid Iraq's capital of terrorists is underway. In the largest Iraqi-led offensive since Saddam Hussein's regime was overthrown, some forty-thousand Iraqi police and security forces, with the support of ten-thousand coalition soldiers, are trying to stop a surge of violence in Baghdad that began April 28th. That was the day Iraq's elected leaders announced their new government.
In the words of Laith Kubba, a spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari, Iraqi security forces are "fighting a vicious, intelligent, well-dug-in enemy, entrenched among civilians. They have to find ways of rattling that enemy and cleaning them out of their hideouts."
President George W. Bush says the launch of the offensive, known as Operation Lightning, is a very good sign:
"It's a sign that they, the Iraqi leaders, understand they are responsible for their security, ultimately. And that our job is to help them take on that responsibility. So I am pleased that in less than a year's time, there is a democratically-elected government in Iraq, there are thousands of Iraqi soldiers trained and better equipped to fight for their own country."
Iraq's most wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, has claimed responsibility for several recent attacks and has promised more violence. But these attacks have not stopped the Iraqi people from supporting their new government. Al-Qaida terrorists and former regime elements, says President Bush, have failed to drive out the coalition and have failed to prevent Iraqis from signing up in large numbers for the police and security forces. And every week the number of operations by the Iraqi security forces goes up, including combined operations in which the Iraqis take the lead and coalition forces assist.
President Bush says the U.S. and its coalition allies will help the Iraqi people achieve security and freedom. Iraq's success, says Mr. Bush, will benefit the entire Middle East:
"A free Iraq will set such a powerful example in a neighborhood that is desperate for freedom. And therefore, we will complete the mission and support this elected government."
"Our strategy is very clear," says President Bush. "We will work to get [the Iraqi people] ready to fight, and when they're ready, we'll come home."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.