U.S. lawmakers are asking Defense Secretary Robert Gates why Washington should believe new Iraqi promises to quell sectarian violence when earlier pledges were not fulfilled.
Gates and General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared Friday before the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss the president's decision to send more than 20-thousand additional troops to Iraq.
General Pace said the "significant difference" about the planned operation is that Iraqi commanders have pledged to work against all criminal elements, whether Sunni or Shi'ite.
U.S. public support for the war has been dropping, and leaders in the Democratic-controlled Congress have sharply criticized Mr. Bush's planned "surge" of troops. Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy asked on Friday if the president would be willing to put the plan to a vote in Congress. Gates indicated Mr. Bush would not.
The defense secretary said the president was taking the "long view" of the situation, which might differ from popular sentiment.
Both Gates and Pace were asked whether Mr. Bush's pledge to seek and destroy anti-U.S. networks coming into Iraq from Iran and Syria would involve crossing Iraqi borders to disrupt those threats. Both men said all military operations would be contained within Iraqi borders.
Later Friday, a White House spokesman said there is no battle plan against Syria or Iran in the works. Tony Snow said he wanted to end speculation that remarks by the president on Wednesday were signaling a possible broader conflict.