7 U.S. Troops Dead

Family members of people executed under the regime of Saddam Hussein hang an effigy of Saddam during a protest in Baghdad. The sign says: "Saddam's execution is a pricipal step towards Iraqi progress and of other regional countries."
Insurgents ambushed two U.S. military patrols north of Baghdad on Sunday, separate attacks that killed three U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi civilian. The U.S. military announced four Marines were killed in a vehicle accident.

Meanwhile, the Philippines government rejected an insurgent group's ultimatum to pull its small peacekeeping force out of Iraq. The group has threatened to kill a Filipino man it is holding hostage.

A roadside bomb attack on a U.S. patrol in the city of Samarra, a hotbed of violence 60 miles north of Baghdad, killed two soldiers on patrol Sunday afternoon and wounded three others, the military said.

An earlier attack on a U.S. convoy in Beiji, 90 miles south of the northern city of Mosul, began Sunday morning when a roadside bomb exploded next to the patrol, the military said.

An enemy vehicle then raced toward the convoy, firing at the soldiers, who shot back and killed the driver, the military said.

A soldier and a civilian traveling behind the patrol were killed. A second soldier was injured and evacuated. Thick black smoke poured over the area from an oil tanker set alight in the attack.

The deaths came a day after four U.S. Marines were killed in a vehicle accident near Camp Fallujah in western Iraq. More than 875 service members have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq.

In other developments:

  • Newsweek, after examining the case files of 26 of the detainees abused in the Abu Ghraib scandal, found 13 were imprisoned for criminal offenses such as theft and rape. At least eight of the other 13 who were detained as terrorists were later released without any charges.
  • There's a growing rift between foreign fighters and home grown members of the Iraqi resistance, the New York Times reports. Disagreements over goals and tactics have been appearing on Arabic media outlets, and in comments from insurgents. Iraqis are disgusted by terror bombings that have killed hundreds of civilians. Some experts are speculating that the dispute is one reason there hasn't been a spectacular terror attack in the past two weeks.
  • Saboteurs launching attacks on Iraq's oil and electricity infrastructure appear to be employees working in the industry or others acting on inside information, reconstruction officials said Sunday. A Western diplomat in Baghdad said the "precise" targeting of especially vulnerable or valuable portions of the oil and electricity systems - and even a sewage treatment plant - has increased the damage to critical infrastructure beyond what would be expected from random attacks.

    Militants from a group calling itself "The Iraqi Islamic Army-Khaled bin Al-Waleed Corps" gave the Philippines a Sunday night deadline to agree to withdraw its 51-member peacekeeping force by July 20 — a month ahead of schedule. The group threatened to kill truck driver Angelo dela Cruz if the Philippines did not comply.

    After an emergency Cabinet meeting Sunday, the Philippines government refused.

    "In line with our commitment to the free people of Iraq, we reiterate our plan to return our humanitarian contingent as scheduled on Aug. 20, 2004," Foreign Secretary Delia Albert told reporters.

    Dela Cruz's wife and brother were heading to Baghdad, Albert said, and the government remained hopeful he would be released.

    Philippine negotiators were working through mediators Sunday to try to free dela Cruz, a diplomat in Baghdad with knowledge of the situation said.

    A deadline for two other hostages, a pair of Bulgarian truck drivers held by a separate group demanding the release of all Iraqi detainees, expired Saturday morning. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi said Sunday he had unconfirmed information they were alive.

    At a news conference in Bulgaria, Pasi appealed to the hostage takers, saying Islam calls for "mercy for the poor, the hungry and the sick." He said one hostage, Georgi Lazov, had diabetes, while the other, Ivaylo Kepov, had suffered a stroke.

    The group holding the Bulgarians, the Tawhid and Jihad movement linked to Jordanian terror suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, also claimed responsibility Sunday for a Thursday attack on a military headquarters in the city of Samarra that killed five U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi National Guardsman.

    To prevent the infiltration of foreign fighters, Syria and Iraq agreed to set up a special force to patrol their 360-mile shared border, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh said Sunday in Damascus, Syria, after meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    In other developments, Iraq's national security adviser, Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie, said Sunday the country would never again threaten its neighbors and would honor the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as well as international agreements banning the use of chemical and biological weapons.

    "Iraq officially declares it will be a country free of any weapons of mass destruction," al-Rubaie told reporters during a news conference. "Iraq will never again resort to threatening its neighbors, as Saddam did."

    Saddam's alleged possession of such weapons was one of President Bush's declared reasons for invading Iraq last year. The hunt for weapons of mass destruction has proved largely unsuccessful.

    Demonstrators, some supporting Saddam's ousted regime, others opposed to it, took to the streets of Iraq on Sunday.

    In Baqouba north of Baghdad, about 100 people marched through the shopping district, chanting pro-Saddam slogans, waving rifles and carrying posters of the former leader. Meanwhile, demonstrators in Baghdad held a mock trial and execution of Saddam, hoisting an effigy from a hangman's noose setting it on fire.

    Also Sunday, Islamic militants in Baghdad opened fire on a downtown shop selling alcohol, destroying the merchandise and kidnapping an employee, witnesses said.

    "They came in two cars and shouted "God is Great," as they opened fire," said Rafid Fadil, a witness.