Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton is headed to Iraq this weekend with two other lawmakers, as the rest of Congress engages in a fierce debate over President George W. Bush's plan to send 21,500 additional troops to salvage the U.S. effort there.
Clinton, who is considering running for president, is traveling with Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, who had also eyed the 2008 race but opted out, and Republican Rep. John McHugh.
The three, who are all members of armed services committees, are to meet with top Iraqi officials, U.S. military commanders, and also travel to Afghanistan.
"This was the first opportunity we had to be able to go because of the long weekend, and it turns out that the timing is propitious because of the president's plans," Clinton told The Associated Press.
During the trip, Clinton and McHugh will spend time with troops from the Army's 10th Mountain Division, which is deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bush's plan, which he outlined Wednesday night, has met with stiff opposition from Congressional Democrats and some Republicans, who have said it was desperate and even dumb, the AP wrote.
Administration officials have argued that what is new in the plan is that it requires Iraqi leaders to accept more responsibility for what is going on in their country.
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea