U.S. Soldiers Wounded As Anti-Resistance Operation Continues
Both incidents involved grenade attacks on U.S. truck convoys, according to the Associated Press. In the first attack an Iraqi civilian bus and U.S. military vehicles that were passing on a road close to the town of Mushahidah, about 15 miles north of Baghdad, were struck by hand grenades, wounding an unknown number of Iraqis and two American soldiers, the AP reported.
U.S. Central Command said in a statement that the soldiers fired on the suspected attacker in order “to protect the convoy and the civilian bus.”
In a second attack a convoy was struck by rocket propelled grenades near Dujayl, about 35 miles north of Baghdad. The explosions “lightly” wounded two American soldiers, a military spokesman said, according to the AP.
In recent weeks U.S. forces have increasingly come under attack from fighters employing guerrilla-style ambush tactics and have responded with a number of offensives designed to capture or kill the attackers, who are suspected to be Saddam Hussein loyalists, possibly members of his elite “Fedayeen” troops.
“We have indications the old Fedayeen are trying to regroup. We call them New Fedayeen,” Maj. Gary Brito, an officer with the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, recently told The Washington Post. “There are also signs of Ba’ath reorganization.”
On Friday, armed Iraqi fighters ambushed an American tank patrol 35 miles north of Baghdad, launching rocket-propelled grenades at the unit, according to Central Command.
U.S. soldiers killed four of the assailants in the initial gun battle and opened fire from Apache helicopters as the assailants fled, Central Command said in a statement.
Central Command originally said that 23 Iraqis were killed in the helicopter counter-attack but military officials later revised that statement, saying the actual number of killed Iraqis was seven.
On Monday, U.S. troops entered the second day of “Operation Desert Scorpion,” which The Washington Post, citing U.S. military officers, described as “a nationwide effort to aggressively hunt and capture Iraqis who have been attacking American forces and to calm the civilian population with a flood of humanitarian aid.”
U.S. military officials have said they hope the offensives will deter further attacks and shore up support among the civilian population.
“The idea is to demonstrate that there are certain bad guys that we are targeting, with all the force necessary, but that we are also prepared to use every asset we have to provide assistance for the Iraqi people,” a military spokesman, Sgt. Brian Thomas, said in Baghdad, according to the Post.
Last week U.S. forces killed 15 Iraqis and arrested 400 in a sweep called “Operation Peninsula Strike.” The strike targeted an area known as the “Sunni triangle” north of Baghdad, which includes Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit.