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Couric to anchor from Iraq and Syria

CBS news anchor Katie Couric plans to leave Wednesday for an ambitious reporting trip to Iraq and Syria in anticipation of a crucial military report on progress of the American effort.

Couric will anchor the “CBS Evening News” from Baghdad next Tuesday and Wednesday, then from Damascus on Thursday and Friday. The Baghdad newscast will mark her first time in a war zone.

Couric will travel throughout Iraq to talk to military and civilian leaders, soldiers and average Iraqis, spending most of her time outside of Baghdad. CBS News would not reveal many specifics of her plans in advance because of competitive and safety concerns. The trip, in the works for six weeks, anticipates the surge progress report by Gen. David Petraeus that is expected the second week of September.

“You can’t help but get a very detached perspective when you’re not there and you’re not witnessing things firsthand,” Couric told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “I’m curious about very basic questions regarding living conditions, about how much fear there is in the street, about how the soldiers really are doing.”

Couric is the second major network anchor to travel to Iraq since ABC News’ Bob Woodruff was nearly killed by a roadside bomb. NBC’s Brian Williams went to Iraq in March; Woodruff’s successor Charles Gibson has not been there.

Updated: Wednesday 29 August 2007