- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2005

BAGHDAD — U.S. Marines, facing an increasingly lethal enemy in western Iraq, suffered another death in the Euphrates Valley, and three Army soldiers died yesterday in an attack in Baghdad.

The U.S. military defended its operations in Iraq’s western Anbar province, insisting it is reducing insurgent attacks despite the deaths of 14 Marines in a bombing Wednesday and the deaths of six Marines in an ambush Monday.

“We still have deaths. We still have suicide car bombs,” said U.S. military spokesman Brig. Gen. Donald Alston.

“But the numbers we see indicate [the insurgents] can’t generate the same tempo, and I think that’s because we’ve had some degree of effect in interdicting these forces.”

Gen. Alston cited figures showing there were 13 car bombs in Iraq last week, the lowest weekly number since April.

“There’s a clear indication to me that the tempo has decreased,” he said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced a 12-point security plan. He gave few details but said it included steps to improve intelligence, protect infrastructure and prevent foreign fighters from entering the country.

“We will not hesitate in saying this: We are in a state of war. It is one of the most dangerous types of war because it is not a conventional or a war of borders,” he said.

U.S. troops have stepped up operations in recent months in Anbar province, the center of the Sunni-Arab-dominated insurgency and a major avenue for foreign fighters infiltrating the country from Syria.

Gen. Alston warned that militants likely will rally their forces in a concerted effort to derail the country’s political progress, including a referendum on the constitution in October and an election in December.

U.S. commanders have warned that although vehicle and roadside bombings are decreasing in number, they are increasing in potency and sophistication.

Bombs on the roads or planted in vehicles account for 70 percent to 80 percent of the U.S. deaths in Iraq, command spokesman Lt. Col. Steven Boylan said.

The blast that killed the 14 Marines and their civilian translator on Wednesday was so powerful that it flipped the 25-ton vehicle and engulfed it in a fireball.

The terrorist Ansar al-Sunnah Army took responsibility in a Web posting and said its fighters used two bombs to destroy the vehicle.

A roadside bomb late Wednesday killed three U.S. soldiers in Baghdad, the U.S. command said.

Another Marine was killed late Wednesday by small-arms fire in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province 70 miles west of Baghdad, the command said.

Officials in Georgia said the three soldiers killed in Baghdad were assigned to the 48th Brigade of the Georgia National Guard. The 48th has lost 11 soldiers since arriving in Iraq in May.

At least 1,826 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide