Three Soldiers Killed in Baghdad
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 15, 2004 Three Task Force 1st Armored Division soldiers were killed in Baghdad over the past 24 hours, Central Command officials reported today.
One soldier was killed during a mortar attack on his unit and another died from wounds during a sniper ambush May 14. The third soldier was killed when his vehicle overturned during a patrol shortly after midnight May 15.
The names of the soldiers were withheld pending family notification, military officials stated.
Also, small skirmishes continued in and around Najaf and Sadr City, noted coalition military spokesman Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt during the Baghdad briefing today. He said that military engagements overnight between members of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia and coalition and Iraqi security forces led to several members of Sadr's militia being killed.
The general also reported that Sadr's militia attacked coalition and Iraqi police forces with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire near the al-Mukaim mosque and shrine complex overnight.
Sadr supporters had accused coalition forces May 14 of causing damage to one of the city's holiest shrines, Imam Ali. In two separate incidents, Kimmitt said Muqtada's militia attacked coalition forces twice in one day. He said two militia were killed in the fighting May 14.
Coalition forces were attacked four times today, resulting in two more militiamen killed. He said one coalition soldier was wounded during those engagements.
Meanwhile, Coalition Provisional Authority senior spokesman Dan Senor, also at the briefing, said that several Iraqi notables have stepped forward to try and negotiate peace in Najaf, but have had little success.
"Those efforts, however," he said, "obviously have not produced real progress in reaching a peaceful resolution. But as we've encouraged Iraqi notables all along to make a constructive contribution, but thus far we haven't seen any results."
However, Senor also pointed out that two non-negotiable points or fundamental conditions to any agreement with the rebel cleric remain: "Mr. al-Sadr must face justice, and he has to disband and disarm his militia."
Kimmitt added that the coalition is willing to talk to anyone who can help bring the situation to a peaceful solution. "We certainly understand that we got the military force to end this by force of arms at any time, but in the long run that doesn't solve the problem," he said. "That is why we try to continue to reach out to legitimate leaders in these communities to come together with the coalition to try resolve this situation with Muqtada and his militia."
In the past 24 hours, Kimmitt said the coalition conducted 1,614 patrols and 19 offensive operations, and captured 38 anti-coalition suspects. He summarized operational developments:
- In the northern zone of operations, insurgents targeted an Iraqi armed forces recruiting station in Mosul, killing four recruits and wounding at least 15 others.
- In Baghdad, unknown assailants shot seven civilians at a residential location in the Al Rashid district, killing six and wounding one.
- During offensive operations in Nasiriyah, coalition forces killed 14 enemy fighters and wounded 10.
- In western Baghdad, coalition forces were attacked by small-arms fire. Kimmitt said U.S. forces returned fire, killing seven attackers.
- A crowd of 40 individuals carrying weapons near the two bridges that cross the Euphrates River attacked a CPA building. Kimmitt said mortars, RPGs and small-arms fire attacked the building. He noted coalition forces later moved in and secured the CPA compound and re-established control of the city. There were no casualties as a result of the attack, he added.