The Bush administration disclosed its interim report on the progress of the war in Iraq, which sited mixed results.
There has been satisfactory progress on eight of the benchmarks laid out by Congress, unsatisfactory progress on another eight, and mixed results on two others, according to the report, which is certain to inflame debate in Congress over future U.S. war strategy.
During a press conference that coincided with the report's release, President Bush asked for patience.
In the interim assessment required by Congress, the administration accused Syria of fostering a network that supplies as many as 50 to 80 suicide bombers per month for al-Qaida in Iraq. It also said Iran continues to fund extremist groups.
The report said that despite progress on some fronts by the government of Nouri al-Maliki, "the security situation in Iraq remains complex and extremely challenging," the "economic picture is uneven" and political reconciliation is lagging.
At the news conference President Bush said, "I believe we can succeed in Iraq and I know we must."
In remarks clearly aimed at his critics, he added, "When we start drawing down our forces in Iraq, it will (be) because our military commanders say the conditions on the ground are right, not because pollsters say it'll be good politics."
Bush was still answering questions at the White House when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., responded. "It is time for the president to listen to the American people and do what is necessary to protect this nation. That means admitting his Iraq policy has failed, working with the Democrats and Republicans in Congress on crafting a new way forward in Iraq, and refocusing our collective efforts on defeating al Qaida," he said in a statement.
With additional reporting from The Associated Press