3,700 U.S. soldiers headed to Baghdad

Published July 30, 2006

BAGHDAD - The U.S. command announced Saturday that it will send 3,700 troops to Baghdad to try to quell the sectarian violence sweeping the capital.

The 172nd Stryker Brigade, which had been due to return home after a year in Iraq, will bring quick-moving, light-armored vehicles to patrol the city of 6-million people, hoping security forces respond faster to the tit-for-tat killings by Shiite militias and Sunni Arab insurgents.

U.S. military officials say they hope more armor will intimidate gunmen, who in recent weeks have become more brazen in their attacks.

President Bush said last week that he had decided to send more troops to Baghdad after the surge in reprisal killings began to threaten the unity government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which took power May 20. The military announced Thursday that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had extended the tours for some members of the Stryker team, without specifying how many.

The wave of violence has dashed hopes for substantial reductions in the U.S. mission in Iraq before the November elections.

According to the United Nations, about 6,000 Iraqis were killed in insurgent or sectarian violence in May and June.

Pentagon officials have said plans call for adding military police, armored vehicles and tanks to the streets of the capital to work alongside Iraq's U.S.-trained police and army units.

In other violence:

- Three U.S. Marines were killed Thursday in western Iraq.

- A Sunni cleric from a tribe opposed to al-Qaida in Iraq was killed in Samara, 60 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

- Gunmen assassinated the western regional commander of the Iraqi Border Protection Force, Brig. Gen. Jawad Hadi al-Selawi, in Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad, police said.