'Ramadan Offensive' Challenges Security in Baghdad

ByTerry Mccarthy

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 19, 206 —, 2006 -- There is an increasing realization that the latest effort to subdue the insurgency in Iraq is not working as a top general acknowledges that modifications may be needed in Operation Forward Together, which poured thousands of additional U.S. troops into the region.

In the current wave of violence, referred to as the Ramadan offensive, insurgent attacks are up by 22 percent in Baghdad since the Muslim holy month began three weeks ago. In a rare turnaround, a U.S. general now admits the military's security plan for the city is not working.

"It's clear that the conditions under which we started are probably not the same today. And so it does require some modifications of the plan," Maj. Gen William Caldwell said.

As the United States loses troops in the streets, it also risks losing the propaganda war, because the insurgents are surprisingly media savvy.

A scan of insurgent Web sites reveals information on how events in Iraq could affect the upcoming U.S. elections, and how graphic footage of attacks on Americans could promote the insurgents' cause.

On Wednesday another publicity stunt, a demonstration in Ramadi, called for a separate Islamic state in central Iraq.

Desperate for results, the United States has put pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to rein in violent militias.

Maliki fired two police generals on Monday and then two days later visited Moqtada al Sadr, head of the biggest Shiite militia, seeking his help in putting a stop to the death squads.

But on the same day, the Iraqi government ordered the Americans to release a top Sadr aide who is suspected of heading a death squad.

Maliki is torn -- he may want to help the Americans, but politically he needs the support of Shiite leaders like Sadr.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events