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Last week in Iraq

By Times Wires
Published January 13, 2008


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Attacks

-Three Iraqi soldiers threw themselves on a suicide attacker wearing an explosives vest at an Army Day celebration Jan. 6, an act of heroism the U.S. military said likely prevented many more deaths. At least 11 people were killed, Iraqi police said.

-Ten bombings killed at least 15 people Monday and wounded more than 50. Five severed heads were discovered on a road leading into the provincial capital of Baqubah, and killers used blood to scrawl a gruesome warning in Arabic across the foreheads: Join the U.S.-backed militias "and you will end up like this."

Military

-Extremists assassinated two key leaders of U.S.-backed neighborhood militias in northern Baghdad on Jan. 6 and Monday, highlighting the extremists' strategy of eliminating militia commanders who have embraced partnerships with U.S. forces.

-The U.S. military launched a countrywide offensive - named Phantom Phoenix - Tuesday against al-Qaida in Iraq's efforts to regroup and intensify suicide strikes on civilians who have sided with the Americans against the terror group.

-An explosive booby trap in a house killed six U.S. soldiers on Wednesday during an offensive against Sunni insurgents in Diyala province, making it the deadliest day for U.S. troops in Iraq since November. The military announced that three troops were shot to death in the neighboring northern province of Salahuddin on Tuesday.

-U.S. warplanes unleashed one of the most intense airstrikes of the Iraq war Thursday, dropping 40,000 pounds of explosives in a thunderous 10-minute onslaught on suspected al-Qaida in Iraq havens in Sunni farmlands south of Baghdad. The mighty barrage, recalling the Pentagon's "shock and awe" raids during the 2003 invasion, appeared to mark a significant escalation in the countrywide offensive to try to cripple remaining insurgent strongholds.

-Army Col. Terry Ferrell, a top U.S. commander, said Friday that the bombing blitz south of Baghdad on Thursday destroyed extremists' weapons caches and powerful roadside bombs buried deep underground, and allowed American soldiers to push into areas where they have not been in years.

Rebuilding

-Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the No. 2 U.S. commander, announced Tuesday that a new operation named Phantom Phoenix would focus on bettering Iraqi lives as well as on attacking al-Qaida by speeding up work on basic services and other civic projects.

-About 151,000 Iraqis died from violence in the three years after the United States invaded, concludes an estimate based on projections by the World Health Organization and the Iraqi government. Experts on Wednesday called it the largest and most scientific study of the Iraqi death toll since the war began.

-One of Iraq's most powerful Shiite political and religious figures, Ammar al-Hakim, on Friday called for the government to set aside differences with Sunni Muslim politicians and entice them back to help lead the country.

Deaths

As of Saturday, 3,922 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. Identifications as reported by the U.S. military and not previously published:

-Navy Petty Officer Second Class Menelek M. Brown, 24, Roswell, N.M.; declared dead Jan. 4 after apparently going overboard in the Arabian Sea the day before.

-Army Spc. Todd E. Davis, 22, Raymore, Mo.; explosion Wednesday; Sinsil.

-Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan K. Dozier, 30, Rutherford, Tenn.; explosion Wednesday; Sinsil.

-Army Staff Sgt. Sean M. Gaul, 29, Reno, Nev.; explosion Wednesday; Sinsil.

-Army Spc. James D. Gudridge, 20, Carthage, N.Y.; explosion Jan. 6; Baghdad.

-Army Pfc. Timothy R. Hanson, 23, Kenosha, Wis.; small-arms fire Monday; Salmon Pak.

-Army Sgt. David J. Hart, 22, Lake View Terrace, Calif.; combat Tuesday; Samarra.

-Army Pfc. Jason F. Lemke, 30, West Allis, Wis.; explosion Jan. 5; Ibrahim Al Adham.

-Army Sgt. Zachary W. McBride, 20, Bend, Ore.; explosion Wednesday; Sinsil.

-Army Pfc. Ivan E. Merlo, 19, San Marcos, Calif.; combat Tuesday; Samarra.

-Army Pfc. Phillip J. Pannier, 20, Washburn, Ill.; combat Tuesday; Samarra.

-Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew I. Pionk, 30, Superior, Wis.; explosion Wednesday; Sinsil.

-Army Sgt. Christopher A. Sanders, 22, Roswell, N.M.; explosion Wednesday; Sinsil.

[Last modified January 13, 2008, 01:20:13]


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