- The Washington Times - Monday, October 20, 2003

From combined dispatches

BAGHDAD — Deadly ambush teams struck U.S. Army targets from west to north in the arc of resistance around Baghdad yesterday, setting off spectacular explosions when a broken-down ammunition truck was blown up near Fallujah.

The Iraqi Governing Council issued a statement warning of a “dangerous security situation” ahead of a major fund-raising conference this week in Madrid and called for an end to “conspiracies” that threaten stability.

The head of the council, meanwhile, called in an American opinion page article for an immediate mobilization of Saddam Hussein’s old army to help quell the violence.

The United States could “speed the process of relieving the burden on its troops” by recalling the disbanded Iraqi military, said Iyad Allawi, this month’s Governing Council president.

U.S. officials in Baghdad showed little interest in the idea, despite fresh attacks overnight and yesterday against U.S. Army targets west and north of Baghdad.

Attackers killed two U.S. soldiers in a clash outside Kirkuk late Saturday, and others blasted a broken-down convoy in the western flash-point city of Fallujah, setting off spectacular explosions from an ammunition truck.

After the Fallujah ambush, American troops opened fire as they sped away, killing one civilian and wounding at least four others, witnesses and hospital officials said.

Mr. Allawi, in an opinion-page piece in yesterday’s New York Times, said the U.S. decision to dissolve the 400,000-man Iraqi army had produced a “security vacuum that let criminals, die-hards of the former regime and international terrorists flourish.”

He wrote that it is “vital” to recall Iraqi army units now, six months after they disintegrated in the face of advancing U.S. and British forces.

The full 25-member Governing Council separately issued a special statement announcing the formation of a committee to work out ways to improve security in places like Karbala, the southern Shi’ite city where three U.S. military police and two Iraqi police died in fighting on Thursday.

“The Governing Council invites the Iraqi people to maintain stability and prevent the conspiracies which surround our country and abide by laws, as this is the only way they can assure their rights and security,” the statement said.

It said the appeal was issued “in view of the dangerous security situation that faces our beloved nation.”

A well-placed coalition official reacted coolly yesterday to Mr. Allawi’s article.

“I don’t think there’s a vast swath of people out there who want to serve in the Iraqi army,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The United States is slowly rebuilding a new Iraqi army, but so far has trained only one 700-man battalion.

In the Saturday night attack near Kirkuk, 160 miles north of Baghdad, an American mounted patrol was ambushed by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire at 10:45 p.m., said Maj. Josslyn Aberle, 4th Infantry Division spokeswoman. The patrol returned fire, but no additional enemy contact followed, she said.

In addition to the two killed, a third American was wounded, Maj. Aberle reported.

Early yesterday, about 30 miles west of that attack, U.S. troops were hit with grenades and small-arms fire near Hawija, and killed three Iraqis with returned fire, the 4th Infantry Division reported. Still farther west, near Beiji, American forces detained five attackers after a brief firefight, the division said.

On the eastern edge of Fallujah a U.S. Army ammunition truck broke down late yesterday morning and came under attack, the U.S. command said in Baghdad. The truck and possibly two other vehicles apparently were hit by rocket-propelled grenades.

“Shells were flying everywhere, like fireworks,” shopkeeper Khalil al-Qubaisi, 45, said of the exploding ammunition truck. Dozens of Iraqi youths danced and cheered as the vehicles went up in flames.

The deaths in Kirkuk brought to 103 the number of Americans killed by hostile fire since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1. A total of 338 Americans have died since the invasion of Iraq in March, 217 of them in combat.

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