10 U.S. Soldiers Killed In Iraq

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Los Angeles Times
April 9, 2007
Pg. 1

The attacks take place outside Baghdad. Radical cleric Sadr plans an anti-American demonstration.
By Ned Parker, Times Staff Writer
BAGHDAD — Ten U.S. soldiers were killed over the weekend as armed groups avoiding Baghdad's security dragnet attacked with bombs and other weapons in cities and towns just outside the capital.
The violence came as radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr called on Iraqi soldiers and police to unite with his Al Mahdi militia to oppose the American presence in Iraq. Thousands of his supporters plan to hold a protest today in the shrine city of Najaf against what Sadr considers to be the United States' four-year occupation of Iraq.
In the city of Mahmoudiya, just south of Baghdad, a car bombing Sunday killed 17 Iraqis and wounded 26.
In Washington, meanwhile, debate between Democrats and Republicans continued over whether funding for the U.S. war effort should be tied to a deadline for the withdrawal of American forces.
The U.S. military has acknowledged that the security crackdown in Baghdad might increase attacks outside the capital.
"You have the enemy trying to show it is still strong and able to move and stir fear in the population," U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said Sunday. "We anticipated a movement of enemy forces and violence to the north, south, east and west of Baghdad."
Three of the U.S. soldiers died Sunday and one was wounded when a bomb ripped through their vehicle south of Baghdad, the military said in a statement. A mortar or rocket strike claimed the life of a soldier and wounded three others in a separate attack in that region.
The military also reported Sunday that four U.S. soldiers died and one was wounded Saturday in an explosion in Diyala, a restive province just north and east of the capital. Two other soldiers died of combat injuries; one of them had been wounded in Salahuddin province north of Baghdad. The military provided no details about the attacks.
The deaths brought to at least 3,282 the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq since March 2003, according to the website icasualties.org, which tracks casualties in the campaign.
U.S. and Iraqi forces began a crackdown on insurgent and sectarian violence in the capital in mid-February.
Since then, death squad killings have been reduced in Baghdad, but car bombings in the city have continued and violence has surged in the regions just outside the capital.
The U.S. Army is in the process of inserting an additional combat brigade from its 3rd Infantry Division south of the capital in a bid to rein in insurgents fleeing Baghdad and prevent Sunni Arab rebels from bringing car bombs and other weapons into the capital.
The military also has moved a battalion of Stryker armored vehicles into Diyala in an effort to assert control. Violence recently has increased sharply in the province, which is a microcosm of Iraq, with its mixed population of Shiite and Sunni Muslims and ethnic Kurds.
Amid Sunday's attacks, Sadr, whose social and political movement commands deep-rooted popular support, issued a statement urging Iraqi forces not to obey the Americans and to unite with his Al Mahdi militia to end the U.S. presence in Iraq.
He stopped short of calling for an open revolt against the American troops and instead counseled his followers to be patient.
Sadr has ordered his followers to respect the security crackdown in Baghdad, though his forces have been involved in clashes elsewhere. His statement Sunday came after three days of fighting that pitted his militia against Iraqi and U.S.-led foreign troops in the south-central city of Diwaniya.
"We see what is happening in … Diwaniya of preplanned troubles to drag brothers into fighting and struggle and even killing," Sadr wrote. "My brothers at the Imam Al Mahdi army, my brothers in the security forces, enough fighting among you. This is giving success to our enemy's plans."
In response to his statement, his fighters silenced their guns in Diwaniya, said a member of the area's government council, who belongs to the Sadr movement.
The head of his bloc in parliament, Nassar Rubaie, insisted that the movement was committed to nonviolent resistance.
"We are now at the stage of political action," Rubaie said Sunday. "Peaceful means is the right way and has proved to be correct."
Sadr called the Najaf demonstration for today in part to mark the fourth anniversary of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime by U.S.-led forces. His followers in Baghdad hung Iraqi national flags from their homes, street signs and cars in response to their leader's demand to put a nationalist face on the coming protest.
"The Americans call the 9th of April the liberation of Baghdad," said one man who identified himself as Alaa, "but it was just an invasion, and liberated the city from Saddam for them, not for us."
The cities of Baghdad and Najaf have declared bans on vehicle traffic today in an attempt to stave off any attacks on the anniversary.
Sunday's car bombing came in an area south of Baghdad that has served as a base for armed groups trying to strike the capital. U.S. and Iraqi troops have been trying to subdue the area.
The vehicle, packed with about 700 pounds of TNT, hit a strip of apartment buildings with auto mechanics' shops on the ground floor, said Baghdad provincial council member Sheik Basim Banzi, who lives in Mahmoudiya.
The victims were both Shiites and Sunnis.
The U.S. military also said Sunday that it had captured a senior Al Qaeda in Iraq leader, described as a gatekeeper for the group's Baghdad chief, during a raid Sunday morning in the city. Two other people, one of them said to be a car bomb specialist, also were detained.
Seventeen bodies were found dumped around Baghdad. In Baqubah, the capital of Diyala province, five corpses were found. An additional 10 Iraqis were killed during the day in various acts of violence.
In the southern city of Basra, the British military handed over the Shatt al Arab Hotel to the Iraqi army in the countdown to its anticipated transfer of security responsibility for the port city to the Iraqis this year.
On the diplomatic front, Iran said its refusal Saturday to allow Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's plane to fly through Iranian airspace on its way to Japan was only a technical issue.
Times staff writers Raheem Salman, Zeena Kareem and Saif Hameed contributed to this report.