US President George W Bush has marked the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by calling for the country's political leaders to put aside their differences to form a unity government that could command the allegiance of all Iraqis.

He also claimed that new strategies against Iraqi insurgents were working but said American troops would not leave Iraq until there was stability there.

Over the weekend, US Vice-President Dick Cheney said he did not believe efforts to foment a civil war had been successful.

He was contradicted in his view by former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi who told the BBC the country was in a civil war and nearing the 'point of no return.'

Mr Allawi blamed the US-led coalition, saying its mistakes led to a situation where sectarian killings had become commonplace.

Public support for the war in the US has reached its lowest level with two thirds of respondents to a Pew Research poll disapproving of the President's handling of the war.

Begg calls for end to Iraqi 'nightmare'

Irish Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary David Begg today said the Iraq nightmare must be brought to an end.

In a statement to mark the third anniversary Mr Begg remarked: 'Congress vigorously opposed this war from the outset, as did the majority of people the world over.

'We take no comfort from the fact that it has turned out to be a far greater disaster than even we feared - disastrous for the Iraqi people, the citizens of the US and UK and the global community.'

He said, to date, up to 180,000 innocent people may have died.

'The very real possibility of Iraq degenerating into civil war is the ultimate nightmare scenario. Disengaging in this context is highly-problematic, but equally, using the prospect of civil war to justify continuing the occupation is wrong,' Mr Begg added.