WASHINGTON – Faced with ongoing violence against Americans in Iraq, President Bush on Tuesday vowed that U.S. troops would not allow Saddam Hussein's (search) loyalists to regain control of the troubled country.
The president said the military expected violence following the end of major combat operations because loyalists of the toppled Saddam regime will stop at nothing to regain power.
"They have attacked coalition forces and they're trying to intimidate Iraqi citizens," Bush said. "These groups believe they have found an opportunity to harm America, to shake our resolve in the war on terror, and to cause us to leave Iraq before freedom is fully established.
"They are wrong and they will not succeed."
The president's comments came at a time when his administration's approach to stabilizing Iraq is becoming more prone to criticism, with reports of casualties among the 230,000 Americans serving inside or near Iraq surfacing almost daily.
And today, violence against Americans continued.
In central Baghdad (search), assailants traveling in a vehicle fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. military vehicle, injuring three soldiers. Another three soldiers were wounded when a grenade slammed into a U.S. truck on a road 12 miles south of Baghdad.
In western Baghdad on Tuesday, U.S. troops shot and killed two people when their car didn't stop at a checkpoint, witnesses said. A U.S. military spokesman said he had heard about the incident but could not confirm it. Later, two civilians were shot and killed at another checkpoint, one by soldiers who feared he was an insurgent and another by a stray bullet, witnesses said.
Those incidents followed a mosque explosion that killed 10 people in Fallujah — contributing to anti-American feelings in a town where Saddam and his Baath Party still enjoy support.
"But there will be no return to tyranny in Iraq," Bush said. "And those who threaten the order and stability of that country will face ruin just as surely as the regime they once served."
More than 60 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since May 1 when Bush declared, aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (search), that major combat had ended. Since the war began in March, 203 U.S. forces have died; 139 are classified as hostile deaths.
Bush spoke in the East Room of the White House on the 30th anniversary of the all-volunteer U.S. force. The draft ended on July 1, 1973. Behind him were 30 men and women who have chosen to re-enlist, joining more than 1.4 million men and women on active duty and the 880,000 in the National Guard and reserves.
"These men and woman are answering the highest call of citizenship," said Bush, who shook each one of the service members' hands after they took the oath of re-enlistment from Gen. Richard Myers (search), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "They have stood between the American people and the dangers of the world, and we are glad they are staying on duty."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.