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Bush to offer $1bn in aid and 20,000 troops to Iraq
Iraqi troops are mounting a concerted effort to restore peace to the streets of Baghdad as President George Bush prepares to unveil his new strategy for the country. But despite their efforts at least 14 people were killed yesterday in a series of bombings and shootings.
President Bush is widely expected to order as many as 20,000 new US combat troops to Baghdad in a renewed "push" against the insurgents. The troops will be based in Baghdad and Anbar province with a back-up force in Kuwait.
The US is also planning to pump up to $1bn (£500m) into Iraq's shattered economy to boost morale. The details of the plan - from painting schools to cleaning streets - have a ring of earlier failed initiatives launched with high hopes by the US military.
Mr Bush's high-risk strategy is being unveiled amid deep unease in Washington about the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki.
The guards who taunted and abused Saddam Hussein at his execution have been linked to Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia militia leader and a supporter of Mr Maliki. "If that's an indication of how Maliki is operating these days, we've got a deeper problem with the bigger effort," a senior US official told The New York Times.
The plan also puts Mr Bush on a collision course with the leaders of the new Democratic Congress. The leadership told him by letter on Friday that the US needs to move instead to a phased withdrawal of American troops, to begin in the next four months.
Mr Bush is expected to address the country on Wednesday and to describe the plan as a joint effort by the US and Iraq to reclaim the control of Baghdad. The "push" in Baghdad is extremely unpopular domestically for the President and is scheduled to last for no more than a year.