From combined dispatches
BAGHDAD — Four American servicemen were killed in attacks by insurgents over two days, and terrorists yesterday posted Internet videos claiming to have beheaded an Iraqi soldier and killed an accused informant.
The bombings and ambushes came after a relative lull in fighting, including the lowest monthly death toll for the U.S. military in a year: 34 service members killed in March.
Iraqi lawmakers prepared to name a new Iraqi president today, taking a step toward building a new government and writing a permanent constitution — developments that can pave the way to the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
The Washington Times reported yesterday that Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani had been chosen for the position and that the two vice presidential posts would go to Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shi’ite, and interim President Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, a Sunni Muslim.
Once the presidential council is appointed, it must name a prime minister, who will choose a Cabinet. Shi’ites and Kurds have agreed that Islamist Shi’ite leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari will be prime minister, taking over from interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.
The political parties also have tentatively agreed on which factions will get the five most-important Cabinet posts. though the individuals have not been selected, The Times reported.
The oil, interior and finance ministries have been reserved for the main Shi’ite alliance, while foreign affairs will go to a Kurd and defense will go to a Sunni, political sources said.
Mr. Jaafari is expected to be officially appointed tomorrow, political leaders said yesterday.
As U.S. officials have begun returning control of the war-torn nation to Iraqi security and government officials, insurgents have been targeting Iraqis along with U.S. troops.
In a video released yesterday by the terrorist group al Qaeda in Iraq, a man in his 20s, identified as Iraqi soldier Jassim Mohammed Hussein Mahdi, was beheaded for working with the U.S.-allied government.
A second video posted on the same Web site by another group, Ansar al-Sunnah Army, showed a condemned man who said he worked as a police informer in the northern city of Mosul.
The man, who identified himself as Hussein Taha Qassim, said he told the police about the hideouts of four insurgents. He said the police killed three of them and the fourth escaped.
The video’s authenticity could not be verified.
In other attacks targeting Iraqis, the Interior Ministry said a senior security official, Brig. Gen. Jala Mohammed Saleh, was kidnapped early yesterday by gunmen who broke into his Baghdad house.
On Monday, an explosion in the western province of Anbar killed one Marine, while two U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi soldier died in a joint attack on dozens of insurgents in eastern Diyala province. Another soldier was killed yesterday in Baghdad when an abandoned taxi exploded on an expressway near a U.S. patrol.