Iraq Rocket Attack Kills 3 U.S. Soldiers

A U.S. soldier stands in front of a bus that was hit by a roadside bomb near Nasiriyah, about 200 miles southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, March, 11, 2008. At least 16 civilians aboard died and another 22 were wounded in the blast. AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani

Three American soldiers were killed in a rocket attack in southern Iraq on Wednesday, bringing to 12 the number of soldiers who have been killed in Iraq over the past three days.

With the overall U.S. military death toll in Iraq nearing 4,000, the latest killings mark a significant rise in deadly attacks against Americans.

At least 3,987 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an AP count. The figure includes eight military civilians.

Navy Lt. Patrick Evans, a military spokesman, told The Associated Press that three soldiers were killed Wednesday in a rocket attack on Combat Outpost Adder near Nasiriyah, about 200 miles southeast of Baghdad. Two other soldiers were wounded.

The attack came a day after an American soldier died when a roadside bomb hit his patrol near Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of Baghdad.

Eight soldiers were killed in a pair of bomb attacks on Monday, the heaviest single day of U.S. casualties since September.

Three of those soldiers died in a roadside bombing in Diyala, a violent province where al Qaeda in Iraq has been active.

The five others were killed while on foot patrol in central Baghdad. A suicide bomber approached them and detonated his explosives vest. Three Americans and an Iraqi interpreter were wounded.

The latest deaths came as a group of Iraqi tribal leaders, former politicians and intellectuals appealed Wednesday to the United Nations to take control of Iraq in a move they say would help U.S. troops leave the beleaguered country.

Both the Bush administration and the Baghdad government are unlikely to endorse the request, which was addressed to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and delivered to the Cairo offices of the organization.

"We believe that the only opportunity left for Iraq to be saved from a dark, but not inevitable future, is to engage the international community represented by the United Nations," the letter said. "Such a step will allow the American troops to leave and the occupation to be brought to its end."

The group's coordinators include Adeeb al-Jadir, Ahmed Al-Haboubi and Nouri Abdel Razak Hussein, politicians overthrown in 1968 when Saddam Hussein's Baath party came to power and long part of the liberal anti-regime opposition prior to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

The U.N. dramatically curtailed its operations in Iraq after an August 2003 suicide attack killed its representative and scores of others. The United States has been pushing for an expanded U.N. role in Iraq but that did not include supervising the country.

The Iraqi group said the world body should supervise a new security plan to restore order during a transitional period and prepare for new elections of a government to replace Nouri al-Maliki's troubled cabinet.

Representatives for the campaign will travel to the U.N. headquarters in New York to seek support from key members, said al-Haboubi, a former government minister.

"We are also ready to discuss our proposals with U.S. officials," he said.

The men said the petition was signed by dozens of Iraqi dignitaries and they had scores of supporters in Iraq who preferred to remain anonymous for now to avoid harassment.
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