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Bush may send up to 40,000 troops to Iraq

The move could be controversial as the Iraq war is increasingly unpopular with the US public.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2007 16:53 IST

President George W Bush could send up to 40,000 more US troops to Iraq when he unveils his revised Iraq policy, US media said on Thursday.

Reports gave estimates of between 9,000 and 40,000 extra troops to be sent to Iraq, where military sources say there are currently some 130,000 US troops.

The move could be controversial as the Iraq war is increasingly unpopular with the US public.

CNN television said Bush is looking at sending 20,000-40,000 additional troops and that the announcement could come early next week.

A "targeted increase in troop strength" is "an active subject of discussion," an unnamed senior administration official told CNN, adding that Bush was "significantly along in the process."

CBS News, citing US military sources, said Bush is preparing to send some 9,000 soldiers and marines into Iraq, with another 11,000 on alert in Kuwait and the United States.

Two army brigades of about 7,500 troops would go to Baghdad, while some 1,500 marines would be sent to the volatile Sunni western province of Al-Anbar, according to CBS.

Another army brigade would be on standby in Kuwait, and two more army brigades on standby in the United States, CBS reported.

The McClatchy Newspaper chain reported that Bush is considering sending three to four US combat brigades, or between 15,000 and 20,000 US troops.

"Instead of a surge, it is a bump," an unnamed State Department official told McClatchy.

All reports caution that no final decision has been made, and that the numbers may vary.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said on Wednesday that the president has not made a final decision.

"The policy is not done. He is still talking to people. He's going to be engaging in consultations," said Snow amid speculation about the speech's central focus. "You know what the theme is? Victory. Winning."

Bush wrote that he will be addressing the nation on a new Iraq strategy "in the days ahead" in an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

The president has previously said he is considering "all options," including a temporary increase of US troops in Iraq.

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