New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 7, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas
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US and Iraqi troops repel insurgent attacks in Baghdad
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — U.S. and Iraqi troops repelled a series of coordinated attacks including suicide car bombs, killing six insurgents and capturing 12, in southern Baghdad, the military said Saturday.
In political developments, Sunni Arabs on the committee drafting a new constitution rejected Kurdish demands for federalism as long as foreign forces remain in Iraq. The statement came on the eve of a meeting to try to overcome differences on the charter.
Iraq’s most feared terror group, meanwhile, warned Sunni Arabs that voting in a referendum on the charter this fall would be tantamount to rejecting Islam.
The fighting erupted about 8 p.m. Friday when guerrillas opened fire on an Iraqi anny position, the American military said. U.S. attack helicopters responded with rockets and gunfire.
At nearly the same time, a siricide attacker drove a tnrck loaded with explosives into a nearby Iraqi anny checkpoint, killing an Iraqi soldier. A second suicide driver tried to attack another Iraq position in the area, but a U.S. tank opened fin1 and the air detonated prematurely.
Minutes later, insurgents at a fourth location fired two rocket-propelled grenades and a mortar round at another Iraqi anny post in southern Baghdad. None of the rounds caused any damage, the U.S. statement said.
Over the next two hours, insurgents tried to launch further attacks on the two Iraqi anny posts but were driven off by U.S. and Iraqi fire, the statement added.
U.S. troops suffered no casualties, but six insurgents were killed and 12 captured in tile lighting.
In recent weeks, U.S. officials have said the insurgents had started using so-called “swarm” tactics — coordinating multiple attacks and firing from several locations—against coalition forces.
Separately, the U.S. command said an American soldier assigned to a unit in the northern city of Mosul was killed in action Thursday “during a terrorist attack” there.
At least 1,827 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
The Bush administration is hoping that progress on the political front will help curb tile insurgency by luring Sunni Arabs away from rebel ranks. Key to maintaining the momentum is a new constitution, which must be approved by parliament by Aug. 15 and by voters in a referendum two months later.
Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish political leaders planned to meet behind clcxsed doors Sunday to try to overcome differences that have deadlocked the work of a 71 -member committee charged with writing the constitution.
Sunday, August 7, 2005 — Herald-Zeitung — Page 9A
Bombs becoming the biggest killers of US troops in Iraq
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — Bombs like the titanic roadside blast that killed 14 Marines last week are becoming the biggest killers of U.S. troops in Iraq, surpassing bullets, rockets and mortars, as insurgents wage an unconventional war that has boosted the American death toll beyond 1,820.
This isn’t a conflict like the World Wars or Vietnam, where waves of enemy ground troops backed by artillery attacked American firebases. Gone too are the intense street battles waged last year in cities like Najaf, Karbala and Fallujah, or in Nasiriyah during the 2003 invasion.
Americans still die in mortar strikes and gunfights, like the six Marine snipers killed Aug. I in a rebel ambush. But surprise blasts — when the road erupts without warning or an explo-sives-packed car disintegrates into a fireball — have become the hallmarks of the Iraq war.
Since the end of May, more than 65 percent of U.S. military deaths in Iraq have resulted from insurgent bombings, compared to nearly 23 percent in conventional combat and 12 percent in accidents, according to figures complied by The Associated Press.
In recent weeks, rebel bombs have been responsible for 70 percent to 80 percent of American soldiers killed or wounded, command spokesman Lt. Col. Steven Boylan said this week.
Of the 54 American troops who died in Iraq in July, 42 were killed either by roadside bombs, car bombs or in one case a land mine. So far this month, 29 soldiers and
Marines have died — all but nine from bombs.
These figures document an evolution in rebel tactics, l/xik-ing back to tile start of die U.S.-led war in March 2003, about 32 percent of American military deaths have been from improvised explosions, suicide bombs or other such blasts — compared to about 48 percent in firelights and other combat. Just over 19 percent died in accidents.
The insurgent bomb strategy is frustrating for American troops, who watch their comrades die without being able to retaliate as they’ve been trained: with punishing return fire.
Instead, the bombs are either piloted to their target by a suicide driver or detonated remotely by an attacker who can disappear into a crowd of civilians.
“That’s die insurgent strategy, this pervasive insecurity. You can’t fight against an unseen enemy,” said RAND Corp. counterinsurgency expert Bruce I tollman.
Iraq has turned into a sniggle that pits Americans’ conventional arms against gritty rebel innovation.
As Americans have added armor, die insurgent bombs— which the U.S. military refers to as Improvised Explosive Devices or IEDs — have gotten bigger.
Guerrillas have learned in more than two years of fighting how to make their bombs
invisible and far more deadly, while taking fewer casualties themselves.
In die early days of the occu-pation, American soldiers would find rudimentary bombs bidden in trash bins, buried along the side of roads and hidden in drink cans and even roadkill carcasses.
The U.S. military picked up on these techniques and began cleaning roadsides, chopping down trees and clearing brush. The insurgents responded by burying bombs under gravel or asphalt.
One new bomb design features a steel plate underneath that directs the blast up into a passing vehicle. Another fires a solid steel penetrator that can pierce the armor on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, officers and analysts say.
In january, IEDs destroyed a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and an Abrams tank — two of the most heavily annored vehicles in the U.S. arsenal.
In some cases, the detonations have been so huge that American vehicles are ripped apart as thoroughly as a suicide bomber’s car.
On Wednesday, a garg;mtuan blast from a bomb hidden by rebels who tunneled under a road outside I laditha engulfed a 25-ton troop carrier, throwing it 30 feet and killing 14 Marines and their civilian translator.
That bomb was invisible to passing troops. Some who’d lieard about die investigation said there weren’t even any
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marks on the road to offer dues that explosives lay under the pavement.
The bomb was probably triggered by a hidden observ er, who detonated it under the second-to-last vehide in the convoy — a packed troop carrier.
Bombs the biggest threat to U.S. troops
Bombs - not bullets or mortars -have become the biggest killers of U.S. troops in Iraq in recent months, as the death toll surpassed 1,800
Cause of death
Bomb ..... Accident
Combat 70 percent
MJSDMJSDMJS 2003 2004 2005
Breakdown of total deaths
NOTE Accident deaths include vehicle crashes and illnesses not directly attributed to combat Some combat deaths include aircraft crashes in non-hostile action