- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2005

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber blew up his vehicle at a checkpoint south of Baghdad, killing four American soldiers yesterday, the military said.

The attack came as U.S. and Iraqi troops battled al Qaeda-led militants for a third day in Husaybah, a town on the Syrian border that the military describes as a major entry point for foreign fighters. One Marine has died there, the U.S. command said yesterday.

Al Qaeda in Iraq warned the Iraqi government to halt the offensive in Husaybah within 24 hours or see “the earth … shake beneath their feet.”

“Let them know that the price will be very heavy,” said an Internet statement purportedly issued by the group.

Names of the four soldiers who died in the suicide attack were not released, but the U.S. command said they were assigned to the Army’s Task Force Baghdad. Earlier yesterday, the military said a U.S. soldier died Sunday in a roadside bombing near Tikrit.

The deaths brought to at least 2,051 the number of U.S. military personnel who have died since the Iraq war started in 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 24 have died this month — most of them in roadside bombings.

The U.S. military said five soldiers from the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment were charged Saturday with assault, maltreatment and dereliction of duty during a Sept. 7 incident “in which three detainees were allegedly punched and kicked while awaiting movement to a detention facility.” All five were reassigned to administrative duties, the military said.

The Army said that the incident occurred in Baghdad and that the detainees, all men, suffered bruises “caused by striking with a closed and open hand, kicking, and hitting with an object described as a broomstick.”

The Marines said yesterday that American and Iraqi troops in Husaybah were trying to flush out terrorists holed up in mosques, schools and other public buildings, but did not say how much of the town had been secured.

The statement said at least 36 terrorists had been killed since the assault began Saturday in the town 200 miles northwest of Baghdad.

“We are meeting quite a bit of resistance here in Husaybah, but the offensive is going well,” Marine Capt. Conlon Carabine told CNN yesterday.

He said U.S. and Iraqi troops would establish a long-term presence in the town after routing the militants.

The Marines also said three terrorists disguised as women tried to enter a camp for displaced civilians in Husaybah yesterday, but were killed by Iraqi guards who spotted their weapons. Marines also found the booby-trapped body of a terrorist in a school.

Elsewhere, five persons, including a woman, were killed and four were wounded yesterday in eastern Baghdad when a mortar shell exploded near a club for members of the Turkmen ethnic minority, police said.

A roadside bomb also killed six policemen and three civilians in the capital’s southern Dora neighborhood, an insurgent stronghold, a hospital official said.

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