NPR and the Associated Press are reporting that there’s been two huge bomb attacks west of Baghdad near Fallujah, killing three U.S. soldiers.
The U.S. military confirmed a “large explosion” and said there were possibly U.S. and Iraqi civilian casualties. The attack occurred in Khaldiyah, 50 miles west of Baghdad. The town is near Fallujah, a hotspot of guerrilla activity where several attacks have taken place against U.S.-led coalition forces.
“One of our units was ambushed near Fallujah … involving two coalition vehicles. There might be coalition and civilian casualties,” said a military spokesman, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.
Another spokeswoman earlier described the attack as a “large explosion.”
Nameer Mohammed, who said he was standing about 500 yards away when the attack occurred, described seeing a U.S. military vehicle on fire after the first blast.
As more American forces came to the scene, another bomb went off, setting fire to a second vehicle, he said.
In the confusion, the Americans fired randomly, he said, and claimed that many Iraqis were killed. This could not be immediately confirmed.
The twin bomb attacks are a classic tactic — the first bomb kills and the second bomb kills the responding team.
[UPDATE Three more GIs were killed in another attack south of Baghdad near Iskandariya, about 30 miles south of Baghdad. That brings the total GIs dead today to six. Two CNN employees were also killed in a drive-by attack. Two Iraqi civilians died in the attack west of Baghdad.]
This follows on the the deadly attacks of this weekend, in which at least six soldiers died.
- A soldier died Sunday from wounds inflicted by a rocket-propelled grenade attack near Beiji, north of Baghdad;
- A U.S. helicopter went down in Mosul with its two crewmen while searching for a missing GI after a patrol boat capsized in the Tigris. The cause of the crash is unknown.
- On Saturday, three U.S. troops were killed near Khaldiyah by a car bomb, and three more were killed near Fallujah when insurgents drove a car bomb into a military checkpoint.
It almost doesn’t matter if the attacks are Ba’athist, al Qaeda or some other group. More than 515 American soldiers and 97 soldiers from other countries have died in Iraq since March 19, 2003. Untold thousands of Iraqis have died in this war.
There’s no way someone can look at this and conclude that the U.S. has Iraq under control. In addition to the deadly violence, there was an ineffectual rocket attack on the CPA HQ on Sunday. And the election plan is in disarray, with the U.S. saying it’s open to “refinements” to the plan, but that its June 30 deadline is firm. While there won’t be any significant drawdown on troops after June 30, the White House desperately needs a sovereign government in Iraq by the summer or Bush’s re-election plans will be affected. Of course, if the Kurds and Shi’ites continue pushing the country toward civil war with their political demands, the U.S. will wish it hadn’t turned over sovereignty.
But now the U.S. is starting to rotate in fresh troops in the largest troop rotation since World War II. For a few weeks, because of overlap, there will be about 200,000 troops in Iraq. Look for insurgents to step up attacks in the hope to kill new guys before they’re fully acclimatized. And don’t be surprised if the U.S. military hits back in a spring offensive using the new troops.
With some other donations and the addition of my savings, B2I is up more than $6,000 now, easily within striking distance of the $10,000 I’d like to have on hand before I leave in early May. (Actually, I think it will be more like $12,000 that I need, with $1,000 for a vest and $1,000 for a plane ticket to Amman.) But that’s great! Again, you can read about the plan here and consider donating to support an independent journalist to cover the sovereignty transfer and its aftermath.