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Attacks Continue in Iraq, Top Saddam Official Captured

BY Admin  June 19, 2003 at 1:30 PM EDT

The strikes come within a day of the U.S. announcing it had captured Saddam Hussein’s top aide.

The American was killed when an unknown attacker fired a rocket-propelled grenade at an ambulance transporting a wounded U.S. soldier to a medical facility about 20 miles south of Baghdad.

“One 804th Medical Brigade soldier was killed and two injured in a rocket propelled grenade attack on a military ambulance June 19 in an area north of Camp Dogwood in the town of Al Iskandariyah,” Central Command reported in a short statement.

Central Command also reported that another attacker fired a mortar round at a coalition-run humanitarian aid office in the central Iraqi city of Samarra on Wednesday. The mortar explosion killed one Iraqi and wounded 12.

“Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division reported hearing three explosions and contacted the Samarra police station to investigate the incident,” Central Command said. “Soldiers were unable to respond or find the perpetrators. This is one of numerous incidents recently where Iraqi resistors have attacked Coalition forces or Coalition Provisional Authority locations and injured or killed Iraqi citizens.”

In a third incident under review, witnesses reported seeing a rocket-propelled grenade strike an American Army truck, lighting it on fire. Central Command officials said the empty truck had been abandoned after it broke down.

Although the latest spate of attacks came within hours of one another, American defense officials have said they are “militarily insignificant” assaults launched by those loyal to the deposed Saddam Hussein regime.

In Washington, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Thursday the military is “still in a phase where we need some significant combat power to take on these remnants of the old regime.”

“I think these people are the last remnants of a dying cause,” he told the House Armed Services Committee.

Although the U.S. has blamed remnants of the Saddam regime for the attacks that have killed more than a dozen in the last two weeks, some in Iraq say it is America’s tactics that have sparked the violent outbursts.

A Reuters correspondent in Baghdad spoke with several Iraqis who said the attacks stem from America’s numerous armed raids and failure to restore basic services.

“The Americans are just using the Baath as an excuse to stay in the country. … They don’t want an Iraqi government. So they just talk about the Baath,” Reuters quoted Ali Jassem, an unemployed Shiite Iraqi, as saying. “We will rise up and fight the Americans. We have just moved from one dictatorship to another.”

The violence comes only a day after American military officials announced the capture of the highest ranking member of Saddam Hussein’s regime thus far.

“General Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti is now in custody of coalition forces,” Central Command announced in a statement late Wednesday. “He was Saddam Hussein’s personal secretary and senior bodyguard. He was also the National Security Advisor.”

The military said the Iraqi general was captured by coalition troops Monday somewhere in Iraq. He was number four on the list of Iraqis sought by the coalition, ranked after Saddam and his two sons.