Michael Ware


AC: Back in Baghdad

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Length: 2:52

RICK SANCHEZ: Welcome back. There are some chilling new numbers from Iraq to share with you tonight. Daily strikes against American forces and Iraqi forces have doubled since January. And most of those strikes involve IEDs, homemade bombs. Last month the number of IEDs reached a new high. In July, for example, insurgents planted 2,625 explosive devices in Iraq; 1,666 of the bombs exploded; 959 were found before they went off.

Joining me now from Baghdad, CNN's Michael Ware, who has been following this story.

Michael, what does it say about the insurgency? And does it possibly say that they're as strong as ever?

Does it say that they're as strong as ever?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Rick. I mean, these guys are as strong as they ever were. In fact, you have some American commanders saying they're actually reaching new highs. I mean, there is absolutely no reason that they wouldn't be. Their incentive to fight remains. Their recruitment remains. Their capabilities remain. I mean, there is nothing that is standing in their way.

The military operations here have not made a dent in their capabilities. We were saying a year ago, two years ago, that the insurgents were able to put as many as 20,000 fighters in the field on any given day. That remains untouched. In fact there is some question whether they're able to put more men in the field. So no, they have not gone anywhere. This war against the American occupation has not only maintained. It is now appearing to intensify -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: Well, you know what is interesting. Remember when Zarqawi was taken out. Many thought that's going to take -- that's going to really take an effect on the insurgency. It seems, though, looking on it back now, and you tell us from your perspective, you know as much as anyone, you been following this story for so long, that it really hasn't made that much of a difference, has it?

WARE: Absolutely not. I mean, anyone who thought that the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, was going to make any significant difference on the insurgency here was simply deluding themselves. I mean, his organization, for example, though it only makes up a fraction from 1 percent to 5 percent of the actual insurgents in the field is able to replenish itself -- both its leadership and its fighters. It is proven that ability.

Zarqawi was particularly charismatic. But this was an organization prepared for loss. We now see them, in the wake of Zarqawi's death, maintaining their level of suicide bombings -- 75 a month. That remains unchanged, Rick.

SANCHEZ: All right. Thanks so much, Michael Ware following that story for us as he will continue to do so.