US President George W Bush said on Saturday that early results of a Baghdad security crackdown were "encouraging" and denied that Iraq was in the grips of civil war.
"The terrorists understand the threat a democratic Iraq poses to their cause, so they've been fighting a bloody campaign of sectarian violence, which they hope will plunge that country into a civil war," he said.
"Our commanders and diplomats on the ground believe that Iraq has not descended into a civil war.
They report that only a small number of Iraqis are engaged in sectarian violence, while the overwhelming majority want peace and a normal life in a unified country," he said in his weekly radio address.
"America will stand with the Iraqi people as they protect their new freedom -- and build a democracy that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself," he said.
With many of Bush's Republicans worried that the unpopular conflict may cost them dearly in November US congressional elections, Bush has waged a new public relations offensive to rally support for the conflict.
On Saturday, he praised a security crackdown in Baghdad by US and Iraqi forces, saying the operation "is still in its early stages, yet the initial results are encouraging."
"Over the coming weeks and months, the operation will expand throughout Baghdad -- until Iraq's democratic government is in full control of the capital.
This work is difficult and dangerous, but Iraqi forces are determined to succeed -- and America is determined to help them," he said.