The US government has admitted its troops have had a difficult year in Iraq. The unexpected acknowledgement came as new Defence Secretary Robert Gates sought advice from those on the front line in a visit to the country. The same day, the US military handed over control of Najaf Province, a move seen as another step forward to full handover and troop withdrawal.
President George W. Bush says he is looking at “all options” to bring about a solution in Iraq, including increasing troop numbers. However, he added this would only be sanctioned if militarily justifiable. Speculation is continuing over whether Bush will heed the findings of the influential Iraq Study group. However, Democrat Senator John Kerry already has. He’s met the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the first US politician to do so since the panel recommended the US open dialogue with Syria and Iran.