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U.S. Forces Push Toward Syria; Car Bombs Shake Iraq

BY Admin  May 11, 2005 at 1:30 PM EDT

A man with hidden explosives slipped past security guards protecting a police and army recruitment center in Hawija, 150 miles north of Baghdad, and blew himself up just outside the building where about 150 applicants had lined up. At least 30 people were killed and 35 injured, police said, reported the Associated Press.

“I was standing near the center and all of a sudden it turned into a scene of dead bodies and pools of blood,” police Sgt. Khalaf Abbas said by cell phone from the scene, according to the AP. “Windows were blown out in nearby houses, leaving the street covered with glass.”

In Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad, a suicide car bomb exploded in a small market near a police station, killing at least 27 people and wounding 75, police and hospital officials said.

The attacker swerved into a crowd after security prevented him from reaching the police station.

Militant group, the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, said on its Web site Wednesday that it was behind the attack, saying it was aimed at Iraqis who work in the U.S. base in Tikrit. The statement, which could not be verified, claimed its fighters left a booby-trapped car at a “site where dozens of renegades who work in an American base pass.”

Four more car bombs exploded in Baghdad, three of them in suicide attacks, the U.S. military said. One caused an unspecified number of casualties in a U.S. patrol, it said.

Since the interim Iraqi government named Cabinet members on April 28, insurgents have increased car bombings, ambushes and other attacks from about 30-40 attacks a day in February and March to about 70 per day, said Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, reported the AP.

Meanwhile, the U.S. offensive in a lawless region near Syria targeting followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida’s leader in Iraq, entered its fourth day.

Many of the insurgents are believed to have fled to remote parts of the Anbar province after losses in Fallujah and Ramadi, farther east.

As many as 100 insurgents were killed in the first two days of fighting as U.S. troops cleared villages along the southern banks of the Euphrates River, and then crossed in rafts and a pontoon bridge, the U.S. command said, according to the AP.

An unspecified number of insurgents were also detained during the operation, U.S. military spokesman Capt. Jeffrey Pool said.

“Information gathered prior to the operation about the presence of foreign fighters in the region has been confirmed by clothing, identification, dialect and by admissions from the detainees,” he said.

At least three Marines were reported killed and 20 injured during the fighting.