In a speech to US soldiers at a military base on Tuesday, Bush said, "as the Iraq democracy succeeds, that success is sending a message from Beirut to Tehran that freedom can be the future of every nation".
 
"The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a crushing defeat to the forces of tyranny and terror, and a watershed event in the global democratic revolution," the president said.
  
Bush stopped short of setting a deadline for withdrawing the roughly 140,000 US troops in Iraq, but said the day they would leave had drawn closer as the number of trained Iraqi security forces had grown.

Winning war

"Iraq security forces are becoming more self-reliant and taking on greater responsibilities. And that means that America and its coalition partners are increasingly playing more of a supporting role," he said.

It has been two years since
US-led forces toppled Hussein

"Today, more than 150,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped, and for the first time, the Iraqi army, police and security forces now outnumber US forces in Iraq."

Bush, wearing a military-style jacket, opened his speech with a somewhat timid version of the traditional US military "Hoo-ah!" cheer, which was echoed by the roughly 25,000 soldiers on hand. 
  
"The Iraqi people know the sacrifices you are making. They're grateful to you. They are grateful to your families," he said. 
  
About 1550 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion.

"You are making possible the peace of Iraq, and you are making possible the security of free nations. Yours is noble work, it's important work, and I thank you for assuming your duty," the US president added.

Historical milestone

"The toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad will be recorded, alongside the fall of the Berlin Wall, as one of the great moments in the
history of liberty"

President Bush

"This weekend we marked the two-year anniversary of the liberation of Baghdad," Bush said.

"The toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad will be recorded, alongside the fall of the Berlin Wall, as one of the great moments in the history of liberty. 
 
"From the beginning, our goal in Iraq has been to promote Iraqi independence," said Bush, whose central case for war was that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction and could pass them to terrorists.
  
No such weapons have been found, an official commission called pre-war intelligence "dead wrong", and Bush has shifted his argument to the campaign to make Iraq a democratic model for the Middle East.