Japan today said its troops in Samawa in southern Iraq had temporarily halted reconstruction work due to the security situation.
Rumsfeld told reporters in Washington that the violence was being caused by a small band of thugs and assassins and that he did not believe a popular uprising against the U.S.-led occupation was underway.
"The United States will stay the course, we will stay until the task is complete," he said. "As President Bush has said, we did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq and pay a bitter cost of casualties to liberate 25 million people, only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins."
Rumsfeld said some U.S. troops scheduled to leave Iraq soon might stay in the country longer to help respond to the surge in fighting. Some 135,000 U.S. troops are currently in Iraq.