Baghdad, Sept.12 : General David Petraeus greeted locals in Arabic and shook hands Wednesday while undertaking his final battlefield tour of Iraq before handing over command of the U.S.-led forces to his successor.
Petraeus is taking over as the head of Central Command.
He told FOX News that he was optimistic about progress being made in Iraq, but added that: "There's a lot left to be done. You'd like to complete everything but that's not possible."
"It's been very, very hard. There's been nothing easy about this ... In the beginning we said it was hard, but not hopeless. I think now it's still hard but it's hopeful," he added.
As Petraeus walked with minimal security -- no helicopters overhead, no flak jackets and no helmets -- the commander said much has changed since the start of the troop surge.
"The first month I returned, there were 42 car bombs in Baghdad in a single month, and they were devastating. They were truly horrific," he said recalling the killing of 175 people and injuries to 150 more.
Petraeus still calls Iraq the central front in the War on Terror.
"We think right now (Al Qaeda) is still clinging to the idea that they could revive Al Qaeda in Iraq," he said.
The general thinks results on the ground will trump any talk in Washington or on the campaign trail.