What's that adage about the first casualty of war?

The president cites fighting at Tal Afar as proof of progress in Iraq. A reporter who was there says it didn't happen the way the president claims.

Published December 1, 2005 6:28PM (EST)

In his speech on Iraq yesterday, George W. Bush cited military operations in Tal Afar as proof of the progress that Iraqi security forces are making. In Fallujah a year ago, the president said, the Iraqis' role was mostly "limited to protecting the flanks of coalition forces, and securing ground that had already been cleared by our troops." In Tal Afar this year, Bush said, "it was a very different story. The assault was primarily led by Iraqi security forces -- 11 Iraqi battalions, backed by five coalition battalions providing support."

Time magazine reporter Michael Ware was embedded with U.S. troops who fought at Tal Afar, and he says things didn't play out quite like the president claimed. In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper last night -- Think Progress has the video -- Ware said: "I was in that battle from the very beginning to the very end. I was with Iraqi units right there on the front line as they were battling with al Qaida. They were not leading. They were being led by the U.S. Green Beret Special Forces with them -- Green Berets who were following an American plan of attack, who were advancing with these Iraqi units as and when they were told to do so by the American battle planners. The Iraqis led nothing."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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George W. Bush Iraq Iraq War Middle East War Room