3 U.S. Troops Killed In Iraq
February 26, 2005
BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded
nine others while on a patrol north of Baghdad on Friday, according to the
military, as the Iraqi government announced the arrest earlier this month of
two men linked to insurgent Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
In political developments, the leading candidate for prime minister,
Ibrahim Jaafari, who is affiliated with a Shiite religious party, further
solidified his position by visiting the country's most influential cleric and
claiming his blessing. Jaafari, leader of the conservative Islamic Dawa party,
was nominated by the clergy-backed United Iraqi Alliance, which received the
most votes in the election.
"Ayatollah al-Sistani blessed the decision taken by the alliance about
the prime minister post. He respects and supports what the alliance has
decided," Jaafari said before television cameras assembled outside after a
meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf. The
United Iraqi Alliance won a majority of seats in the 275-member National
Iraq's Jan. 30 elections. But the prime minister, who functions as
head of government, must be nominated by a presidential council that can be
selected only by a two-thirds vote of parliament.
The Shiite alliance is trying to fend off attempts by the current prime
minister, Ayad Allawi, to pick off support from some of its members as the
alliance courts representatives of the country's Kurdish minority to achieve
the necessary two-thirds support.
The three U.S. soldiers were killed early in the afternoon in an attack
in Tarmiyah, about 20 miles north of the capital, raising the U.S. military
death toll in Iraq to at least 1,489, according to an Associated Press count
since the war began in March 2003.
"There was a group of American soldiers walking in the road while around
five Humvees were parking behind them," Waleed Nahed, 35, who lives in the
area, told AP.
"I heard a very loud explosion and I saw bodies flying," Nahed said.
Other witnesses said they saw about a dozen blood-spattered U.S. soldiers
lying on the ground after the blast.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi government announced that a Feb. 20 raid in Anah,
about 160 miles northwest of Baghdad, led to the arrest of Talib Mikhlif Arsan
Walman al-Dulaymi, also known as Abu Qutaybah. A government statement
described him as a "key lieutenant" for the Zarqawi network responsible for
"arranging safe houses and transportation as well as passing packages and
funds to al-Zarqawi."
The statement said the raid also resulted in the arrest of a man who
sometimes worked as al-Zarqawi's driver, Ahmad Khalid Marad Ismail al-Rawi,
also known as Abu Uthman.
Elsewhere, a Polish soldier was killed Friday and four more injured when
an armored vehicle collided with an Iraqi bus near Diwaniyah, about 100 miles
southeast of the capital, the U.S. military said.
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