US troops under heavy attack in Iraq
- US troops come under heavy attacks in Iraq
KHALDIYAH, Sept 29: US forces used tanks and rocket-firing
helicopters to fight their way out of ambushes on Monday as two
convoys came under heavy attack west of Baghdad, leaving at least one
Witnesses said the Americans took heavy casualties in the assaults
conducted with bombs, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and small arms
northwest of Khaldiyah, where fighting raged for hours, and the
nearby town of Fallujah.
AFP correspondents at the scene saw two Black Hawk helicopters land
in Khaldiyah and one left with four wounded. Two US ambulances rushed
to the site while several US warplanes and helicopters roared
A US military spokeswoman confirmed that one soldier died and another
was wounded in a bomb attack on a convoy around the nearby town of
Habbaniyah, where a large US base is located.
The attacks were the latest in the Sunni Muslim region where anti-US
sentiment runs high and attacks on American forces have been frequent
since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in April.
They came as the US military confirmed that six US soldiers were
wounded on Sunday in a bomb attack on a convoy in Fallujah.
On another front, an Iraqi official working on how to draft a new
constitution came under gunfire, which left his bodyguard dead in the
second attack on a political figure in nine days, authorities said on
They said Jalal al-Din al-Sagheer, a prominent Shia, escaped unhurt
when his car was fired upon about 3:00 pm (1100 GMT) on Sunday as he
was driving home, located in a Baghdad suburb.
The firefight outside Khaldiyah lasted more than four hours, with
American helicopters firing six rockets and spraying machine-gun
fire, a correspondent said.
Lt-Col Jeff Swisher of the Third Armoured Cavalry Regiment confirmed
that two soldiers were wounded in the ambush before soldiers returned
fire and arrested 14 Iraqis.
Witnesses, however, said several US soldiers were injured, and some
appeared to have been killed, before the four US tanks, half a dozen
Humvee vehicles and a troop transport withdrew along a back road
under heavy fire.
"RPGs were fired against two of the vehicles that caught fire,"
Mohammad Mahmud, 18, said at the start of the battle. He said he saw
several soldiers who appeared dead, including five taken away by
Jassim Mohammad, 23, a nurse, said the convoy of four military
vehicles and a tank was attacked on a secondary road between
Khaldiyah and Ramadi further to the west. He saw what appeared to be
six bodies helicoptered away.
A correspondent in Khaldiyah saw two helicopters patrolling the
skies, joined by another two shortly after midday. The thud of RPGs
and cannons and the rattle of gunfire echoed throughout the morning.
The fighting died down only in the late afternoon. Another US convoy
was attacked with at least one bomb in the town of Fallujah, Iraqi
police and US officials said.
Police officer Ismail Ibrahim said the convoy of three or four
vehicles came under assault and "the Americans opened fire blindly."
Witnesses said they saw several US soldiers wounded, some seriously,
but there was no official confirmation. A journalist at the site saw
one Humvee military vehicle damaged.
Khaled Abed, 32, a local worker, reported three explosions and said a
vehicle was damaged. He said he saw two Americans who appeared to be
dead and were carried into a truck.
Ayad al-Issawi, 28, said he saw what appeared to be one
body. "Several wounded soldiers scrambled out of the car screaming
and feeling their wounds," he said.
BOY KILLED: In northern Iraq, US forces killed a 10-year-old Iraqi
boy and wounded a 25-year-old man when they opened fire on Monday on
hundreds of demonstrators who pelted them with stones in Hawija, west
of Kirkuk, a hospital director said.
The US army did not immediately confirm reports of the shooting near
the major oil centre in the north.
The casualties occurred when around 500 protesters carrying portraits
of Saddam took to the streets of Hawija and began pelting US soldiers
with stones, a correspondent at the scene said.
An Iraqi police officer said that unidentified assailants fired four
mortar rounds on Monday at a United States position in the centre of
Kirkuk, an Iraqi police station and an army rehabilitation centre. -
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