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Three U.S. Soldiers Killed in Ambush in Northern Iraq

BY Admin  July 24, 2003 at 3:28 PM EDT

The soldiers came under attack by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades while traveling towards Qayyarah, a town some 40 miles south of Mosul, around 2:30 am Thursday local time, U.S. Central Command said in a press release.

The three American soldiers who died Thursday belonged to the 101st Airborne Division, the same division that killed Saddam Hussein’s sons, Uday and Qusay, during a four-hour firefight at a private residence in Mosul on Tuesday. The names of the three soldiers are being with withheld pending family notification. No soldiers were reported wounded, Central Command reported.

Other U.S. troops headed towards the ambush site after hearing shots fired. Upon securing the location, soldiers found two rocket-propelled grenades and an AK-47 assault rifle apparently used in the ambush, according to the U.S. Central Command press release.

Thursday’s ambush is the third deadly attack since the deaths of the Hussein brothers.

Early Wednesday, two U.S. soldiers were killed in separate ambushes on their military convoys, including one near Mosul. In that attack, one soldier from the 101st Airborne Division was killed and seven others were wounded after their convoys hit an explosive device.

Also on Thursday, Arab satellite network Al-Arabiya aired a video in which alleged members of Saddam’s fedayeen paramilitary forces vowed to avenge the deaths of Uday and Qusay, according to the Associated Press.

In the broadcast, one of the three purported fedayeen members warned that the killings of Saddam’s sons would lead to further attacks against coalition forces. Uday Hussein — the eldest and most infamous of the two sons — was the leader of the elite fedayeen brigade.

“The killing of Uday and Qusay will not decrease the attacks against the Americans but rather increase them,” said one masked speaker, the AP reported.

Thursday’s ambush occurred hours before U.S. military officials released photographs of the bloodied corpses of Uday and Qusay Hussein to prove to Iraqis that the widely feared Hussein brothers were killed in the gunbattle on Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of ground forces in Iraq, hailed the deaths of Saddam’s sons as a major blow to the ongoing resistance from Saddam loyalists who have waged guerrilla warfare against U.S. forces throughout the country.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and other Bush administration officials said their deaths would probably weaken, though not totally eliminate, such attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq.

Since President Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq on May 1, 42 U.S. troops have died from hostile fire, including Thursday’s fatalities. A total of 158 U.S. soldiers have been killed in action since the war began March 20.