Iraq's 1st Public Poll Backs U.S.

US forces restrain an angry woman after she lost her temper while waiting to change her new 10,000 Iraqi dinar notes into smaller ones at a bank in Baghdad, Iraq Thursday June 19, 2003. AP

Attackers fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. military ambulance in Iraq on Thursday, killing one U.S. soldier and injuring two others, the military said.

It was the fourth attack in 24 hours on Americans in Iraq, and the third with deadly results either for Americans or Iraqis.

The Pentagon has been playing down the attacks, saying they don't indicate widespread resentment on the part of the Iraqi people. Now, reports CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, Iraq's first-ever public opinion poll seems to back that up.

Sixty-five percent of Iraqis polled in Baghdad claimed they want the U.S. military to stay until Iraq is stable and secure; only 17 percent want American soldiers out now.

But some U.S. lawmakers are increasingly uneasy about the daily killings of soldiers, the stretching thin of troop forces, excessive demands on reservists and the costs of the war.

The ambulance hit in the latest attack was transporting a wounded U.S. soldier to a medical facility when it was hit on a highway in southwest Baghdad.

The wounded soldier who was being transported was not the one killed, said Capt. John Morgan, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad. The casualties were members of an Army medical brigade and their identities were not being released pending notification of relatives.

The wounded were taken to an Army support hospital in southwest Baghdad. It was not immediately clear if the ambulance was traveling as part of a convoy or if fire was returned.

In other recent developments:

  • U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein's top aide and presidential secretary, Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti, who was No. 4 on the U.S. most-wanted list and may know the location of Saddam Hussein and any illegal weapons.

  • The Pentagon says officials from the Justice Department and CIA are considering a British proposal to offer leniency to captured Iraqi officials in exchange for information about weapons of mass destruction or Saddam's whereabouts.

  • Three people died violently Wednesday in Baghdad. An American soldier was killed in an attack at a gas stations, and two Iraqis were shot dead by U.S. soldiers who opened fire at stone-throwing protestors outside a presidential palace. The demonstrators, former Iraqi soldiers, were demanding back wages.

  • Mourners fired assault rifles in the air as they brought home the body of Taraq Hussein Mohammed, a 32-year-old former noncommissioned officer, one of two men killed at the protest.

  • Human Rights Watch alleged that troops used excessive force in the town of Fallujah when they shot and killed 20 protesters and wounded nearly 90 in two incidents on April 28 and 30. The military had no immediate comment on the report, but said it was conducting its own investigation.

  • U.S. military officials say Operation Desert Scorpion - which Thursday went into its fifth day - has led to the arrests of at least 462 people, in over 69 raids in Baghdad and northern Iraq. Scorpion's mission is stamping out resistance to coalition troops in Iraq. Over 50 people arrested Wednesday - including a former presidential bodyguard - are believed to have links to Saddam's old security and paramilitary groups.

    About a dozen U.S. servicemen have been killed by hostile fire in Iraq since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1. American military commanders in Iraq say attacks on their forces happen daily, though one commander on Tuesday dismissed the fighting as "militarily insignificant."

    Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Marine Corps. Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Congressional committee they believed the burden on U.S. forces would ease as more coalition forces enter Iraq. Pace said two additional divisions should be added in August or September to the 12,000 non-U.S. forces now in Iraq.
    • Joel Roberts

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