The Iraqi government has made mixed progress in meeting political and security goals, a U.S. official said on Thursday, citing a fresh report.
It grades the Iraqi government as satisfactory on eight of 18 goals set by the U.S. Congress. According to Reuters, it showed that on eight of the benchmarks, Baghdad's performance was unsatisfactory, and mixed on two others. In May, Congress agreed to continue funding the war for now but demanded Bush certify on July 15 and again on September 15 that the Iraqis were living up to their political promises.
Meanwhile, American forces raided a Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad on Thursday in a hunt for militiamen linked to Iran, sparking exchanges of fire and a mortar attack. Officials said 19 people died, and residents said some of the casualties were caused by U.S. helicopter fire.
The violence started with a pre-dawn raid by U.S. forces that the military said captured two militants involved in kidnappings and planting roadside bombs against U.S. and Iraqi troops. U.S. troops later surrounded the neighborhood, announcing via loudspeakers to residents that they were seeking militants and that they should stay inside, said an Iraqi police official, according to the AP. As the Americans withdrew around 11 a.m., they came under fire, prompting troops to move back into the district, assaulting several buildings, the official said.
The result was an exchange of fire that included mortars and rockets, the official said. Another police official involved in compiling casualties said 19 people were killed and 20 wounded, a toll confirmed by officials from the three hospitals where the victims were taken.
In southern Iraq, clashes erupted between Shiite militants and the Iraqi army, killing a soldier and a civilian in the city of Diwaniyah, police said. Elsewhere, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives belt near a wedding party in Tal Afar, a city 260 miles northwest of Baghdad that has seen frequent bombings by Sunni insurgents. A police officer in Tal Afar said five people were killed and five wounded.