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Three U.S. Soldiers Killed in Two Incidents in Iraq

BY Admin  October 7, 2003 at 1:23 PM EDT

The continuing attacks occurred even as Turkey announced it might soon send troops to help with the peacekeeping efforts.

A roadside bomb attack on the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, which was traveling west of Baghdad, killed one soldier and wounded another around 9:50 p.m. local time, according to U.S. Central Command.

About an hour later, two soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division were killed and two others were wounded at Haswah, south of Baghdad, in a similar attack. An Iraqi interpreter was also killed.

The identities of the dead and wounded were not released pending the notification of the victims’ families.

Meanwhile in the capital, about 2,000 former Iraqi security forces protested outside the Foreign Ministry building in Baghdad Tuesday. The former intelligence officers, who have been protesting weekly to demand either back pay or their jobs back, hurled stones at American forces. There was also an explosion near the building, but no injuries were reported. The blast was either gunfire or a grenade, a coalition force spokesman told Reuters.

That protest, combined with a large demonstration of Shiite Muslims, brought traffic in the capital to a standstill for most of the day.

The reported fatalities bring the number of American soldiers killed in action to 90 since May 1, when President Bush announced the end of major hostilities in Iraq. There have been 94 nonhostile deaths. As of midnight Monday, 864 U.S. soldiers have been wounded in action since May 1, said Maj. Mike Escudie, a spokesman for Central Command.

To help ease the pressure on U.S. forces, the Bush administration has called on other countries to help with the peacekeeping efforts. On Tuesday, Turkey’s parliament approved a motion to dispatch troops to Iraq. Turkish officials have said they could send 5,000 to 10,000 solders. The Turkish units would be the first Muslim peacekeepers operating in Iraq.

Officials said the Turkish troops — mostly Sunni Muslims — would be based in the Sunni section of central Iraq, where American troops have faced some of their most deadly opposition.

However, Turkish military activities in Iraq are fraught with historical significance. The Turkish Ottoman Empire controlled the region for about 400 years until World War I and more recently, Turkey has fought brutal battles with Kurdish separatists, many of whom have operated out of Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Iraq.

In response to the proposal, Iraq’s 15-member Governing Council, set up by the United States to facilitate the transition to self-rule, met Tuesday and released a statement opposed to any Turkish participation.

“After long deliberations we reached consensus on issuing a statement opposing the arrival Turkish troops,” said council member Mahmoud Othman, a Kurd.

“We believe any interference from a neighboring country, either north, south, west or east, is unacceptable. This interference is unacceptable. This interference will jeopardize Iraq and that country,” said Mouwafak Al-Rabii, a Shiite council member.

Any movement of Turkish troops would take weeks as the United States and Turkey negotiate the terms of deployment.