US President George Bush has compared the intensifying violence in Iraq to the Tet offensive in Vietnam 38 years ago.
The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese armies undertook a series of attacks that shook America's confidence about winning the war and eroded political support for then President Lyndon Johnson.
"There's certainly a stepped up level of violence, and we're heading into an election," Bush said in an ABC News interview.
But he added, "My gut tells me that they have all along been trying to inflict enough damage that we'd leave. And the leaders of al Qaida have made that very clear."
Bush said al Qaida was very active in Iraq. "They are dangerous. They are lethal. They are trying to not only kill American troops, but they're trying to encourage sectarian violence.
"They believe that if they can create enough chaos, the American people will grow sick and tired of the Iraqi effort and will cause government to withdraw," he said.
The military said yesterday that 11 US troops died in combat amid a security crackdown in Baghdad, putting October on track to be the deadliest month for American forces since the siege of Fallujah nearly two years ago.
Bush said the news of casualties "breaks my heart" but said it is surrender "if you pull the troops out before the job is done".Reuse content