April 8th, 2008 02:52 EST
Congress to hear testimony from top US Officials
The two top U.S. officials in Iraq go before Congress Tuesday to present their latest assessment of the war.
General David Petraeus - the U.S. Commander in Iraq - and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are scheduled to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee. They are expected to discuss, among other issues, the so-called "surge" strategy, which increased U.S. forces in Iraq by about 30,000 last year.
The two men are likely to face questions from all three presidential candidates - Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.
Clinton and Obama are committed to start troop withdrawals from Iraq if elected. McCain has pledged to maintain troop levels until the country is secure.
Fighting raged on Tuesday in Baghdad, as Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops continue to battle Shi'ite militias in the Sadr City neighborhood. At least 22 people have been killed there since intense fighting broke out Sunday.
Eleven U.S. soldiers have been killed across Iraq since Sunday.
Fighting has intensified since Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered a crackdown on Shi'ite militias last month.
Mr. Maliki said Monday that militants loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr must disband if they want to take part in upcoming elections.
An aide to Sadr said the cleric will disband the Mahdi Army if senior Shi'ite religious leaders call for it.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.