7 U.S. Soldiers Die In Iraq, 6 In Sweep Of Baghdad

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
New York Times
May 21, 2007
Pg. 8

By David S. Cloud
BAGHDAD, May 20 — Six American soldiers and their interpreter were killed by a roadside bomb in western Baghdad on Saturday, the military said Sunday, in one of the deadliest single attacks against American troops in the capital in recent months.
The soldiers, whose names were not released, had been searching for insurgent arms caches, the military said in a statement.
A soldier assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), a supply unit, was killed Saturday when a bomb struck his armored vehicle near Diwaniya, south of Baghdad, the military said. Two soldiers were wounded in the attack.
The deaths raised to 71 the number of American service members who have been killed this month. In April, the total was 104.
An examination of casualty records on Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, an independent Web site that tracks such figures, indicated that the roadside bomb on Saturday caused the highest number of American troop deaths of any single bomb attack in Baghdad this year.
Military officials warned that casualty rates were likely to remain high this summer, because more American troops are on the streets of Baghdad in an effort to tamp down sectarian violence and insurgent attacks in the capital.
Since the beginning of the American-Iraqi effort to secure Baghdad in January, there have been numerous attacks that have caused multiple deaths. In January, a helicopter crash from insurgent fire killed 12 service members. Other attacks outside Baghdad have caused even more deaths.
Two Iraqi Army soldiers died in western Baghdad on Sunday, an Interior Ministry official said — one when a suicide bomber in a vehicle rammed an Iraqi Army convoy and the other when a car bomb detonated at a checkpoint.
American troops killed eight suspected insurgents on Sunday, the military said — six in an airstrike near Garma, in Anbar Province, and two southwest of Baghdad.
A parked vehicle blew up near the Interior Ministry headquarters in central Baghdad, killing two people and wounding 10, the ministry official said. Later, a mortar shell landed in a commercial area in central Baghdad, wounding two people, the official said. In the Jihad neighborhood of southern Baghdad, American and Iraqi security forces clashed with Shiite militia members, the official said. Four insurgents and two policemen were killed in the fighting.
In Ramadi, west of Baghdad, a truck bomb laden with chlorine exploded near a police checkpoint, killing 11 people, including 6 policemen, and wounding 22 others, said Maj. Ahmed Ali al-Alaiawi, a police official. Dr. Ammar Hammad, the director of al-Raed Hospital, confirmed the report and said 30 additional people were treated for respiratory problems caused by the chlorine used in the bomb, a tactic insurgents have begun using in recent months, apparently to increase casualties.
“Thank God the gas didn’t waft to the nearby areas as there was no strong wind, so the damage was restricted to the area where the explosion happened,” Dr. Hammad said.
An American military spokesman said he had no information about a chlorine gas attack.
In Samarra, north of Baghdad, seven bodies were found, the police said.
In an open letter released Sunday, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, called for Iraqis to reject violence and embrace reconciliation. Noting that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki took office a year ago this month, he said the government “can point to some important accomplishments.”
“All recognize, however, that much work remains to be done and the government’s efforts over the coming months will be critical to whether or not this worthy effort succeeds,” he added.
Thousands of American soldiers on Sunday continued their search for three comrades captured in a May 12 ambush south of Baghdad.
The Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, flew to the United States on Sunday for a multiweek visit that his office said was for rest and for help in reducing his weight. His office denied local news media reports that Mr. Talabani was ill and said he was in general good health apart from his weight, The Associated Press reported. His extended departure comes at a time when the United States is pressing Iraqi politicians to make progress on a variety of measures.
Another influential figure who may be out of Iraq for an extended period is Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of a powerful Shiite party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, who is said to have left the country for medical treatment.
Khalid al-Ansary contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Iraqi employees of The New York Times from Baghdad, Tikrit and Ramadi.