Insurgency Gains Alarming Support Among Iraq's Sunni Muslims

ByABC News
September 20, 2006, 6:37 PM

Sept. 20, 2006 — -- A confidential Pentagon assessment finds that an overwhelming majority of Iraq's Sunni Muslims support the insurgency that has been fighting against U.S. troops and the Iraqi government, ABC News has learned.

Officials won't say how the assessment was made but found that support for the insurgency has never been higher, with approximately 75 percent of the country's Sunni Muslims in agreement.

When the Pentagon started surveying Iraqi public opinion in 2003, Sunni support for the insurgents stood at approximately 14 percent.

The news comes as September is on track to become one of the deadliest months this year for U.S. troops in Iraq. Forty-nine Americans have been killed this month, with four deaths today.

The Iraqi toll is also climbing. At one Baghdad morgue, taxis and other cars line up to take away the bodies -- the U.S. and Iraqi forces' big push to secure the capital seems to be failing to curb the violence.

"Where is the government?" one man asked. "Where is the promise of security? Where is the prime minister?"

U.S. officials are asking the same questions as they privately express frustration with the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Officials say Maliki's government is not doing enough to win support of Iraq's Sunnis.

Former general Jack Keane said the Iraqi government has been "absolutely unable or unwilling to do anything about the Shia militia groups who are causing so much of the violence in Baghdad."

White House press secretary Tony Snow said reports that the president has lost faith in Maliki are "absolutely false." He said the prime minister has been in office just four months, and there has been "significant progress."

But many of the senior military officials ABC News has spoken to simply do not agree with that assessment.