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Facing another decision about U.S. troop levels in Iraq by spring, President Bush said Saturday it is "fine with me" if generals recommend no more reductions than those already planned to drop the force level to about 130,000.
"Iran's role in fomenting violence has been exposed," he said as he listed successes the U.S. is helping to bring about in Iraq. "Iranian agents are in our custody, and we are learning more about how Iran has supported extremist groups with training and lethal aid."
The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, told reporters after Bush spoke that the overall flow of weaponry from Iran into Iraq appears to be down, but attacks with "explosively formed projectiles" tied to Tehran are up by a factor of two or three in recent days. "Frankly, we are trying to determine why that might be," he said.
After a similar report from Petraeus and Crocker in September, Bush announced he would withdraw some troops from Iraq by July - essentially the 30,000 sent as part of a buildup ordered a year ago - but still keep the U.S. level there at about 130,000.
U.S. commanders credit a Sunni backlash against al-Qaida in Iraq with helping reduce violence over the past six months.