U.S. Troops Target Attackers

U.S. soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division stop a car at a checkpoint in Baghdad, May 28, 2003.
Hundreds of American soldiers on Wednesday swept through a western Baghdad area that has seen five attacks on U.S. troops in the past few days.

The U.S. military sweep began at 3 a.m. local time and was expected to end Wednesday evening.

On Sunday, one soldier died in an attack in the area, after the Humvee in which he was traveling was hit by explosive placed along a highway. At least five soldiers were injured in the incidents, which included two grenade attacks on a police station, and three highway attacks on moving U.S. military vehicles.

Military officials said they didn't believe all the incidents were connected. They were among several attacks and accidents that have killed a total of eight Americans since Sunday.

Lt. Clint Mundinger, a U.S. Army intelligence officer, said it appeared that the three highway attacks may have been carried out by the same group, and that the two police station attacks were also staged by the same men — but that those two groups were probably not connected.

In other developments:

  • A report by a journalists advocacy group disputes the Pentagon's account of a U.S. attack on a Baghdad hotel that killed two cameramen in April. The Committee to Protect Journalists says there is no evidence to support the official U.S. position that American forces were returning hostile fire from the hotel.
  • An Arabic newspaper based in London has printed another letter it says is from Saddam Hussein. It has him claiming he's "fighting and hunting the cowardly American and British enemy."
  • Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair departed London on a two-day visit to Kuwait and Iraq.
  • Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction may have been destroyed prior to the war. Rumsfeld said it was known that Iraq had sizable chemical warfare programs and had used chemical weapons on the Iranians and its own people. He said evidence may yet turn up.
  • In the first known elections since Saddam's regime fell, city council in Kirkuk has elected a Kurdish lawyer as mayor, Radio Free Europe reports.
  • Australian Broadcasting is reporting the discovery of another mass grave in Basra, this one in a schoolyard.
  • A Pentagon report, "Operation Iraqi Freedom by the Numbers," says nearly a third of the bombs used in Iraq were unguided — or "dumb" — bombs.
  • Iran's President Mohammad Khatami opened a meeting of the foreign ministers of Muslim-majority countries today with a call for power to be placed in the hands of Iraqis "as soon as possible." Khatami's government has been a sharp critic of the U.S.-led postwar administration of Iraq.
  • The new U.N. envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, said he plans to begin work by Monday and the top of his agenda will be to consult Iraqi leaders and opinion makers "to make sure that the interests of the Iraqi people come first" in rebuilding their country.
  • The U.S. Treasury Department said it was lifting most remaining sanctions on Iraq, freeing U.S. companies to engage in many normal trade and investment opportunities without first having to obtain government approval. The action followed a U.N. Security Council resolution last week that ended 13 years of sanctions.

    A White House spokesman says the recent attacks on Americans in Iraq are a matter of serious concern. Ari Fleischer says there are "bad neighborhoods" in Iraq but says other neighborhoods are improving.

    Baghdad remains violent, after dark in particular, though it has become steadily more stable in recent weeks.

    Early Wednesday, an Iraqi police officer was hit four times when an assailant opened fire on him from a moving car as he stood near a police station in northwest Baghdad. He was rushed to a Baghdad hospital, and then to a U.S. army medical facility. He was in critical condition, officials said.

    On Tuesday, Iraqis opened fire in Fallujah, about 30 miles west of Baghdad, killing two U.S. soldiers. Hours later, two American military police officers were wounded in grenade assaults in Baghdad.

    Saddam had many strong supporters in Fallujah, where protests against the U.S. presence turned violent twice in April, with soldiers firing at crowds, killing 18 Iraqis and wounding at least 78. The United States said people in the crowds fired first, but Iraqis insisted no one shot at the Americans.

    Fallujah's 200,000 residents benefited greatly from Saddam's regime, with its young men awarded positions in the elite Republican Guard forces or jobs in government-built factories.