Seven U.S. Marines were killed in two separate attacks west of Baghdad, where American forces are trying to seal a major border infiltration route for foreign fighters, the military said Tuesday. The deaths pushed the U.S. military death toll in Iraq past 1,800.In Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded at the entrance to a highway tunnel in central Baghdad as a U.S. military convoy was passing, damaging two Humvees. At least 29 Iraqis were wounded, officials said. But there was no report of any American casualties.
One of the Marines died Monday in a suicide car bombing in Hit, 85 miles northwest of Baghdad. The other six were killed Monday in Haditha, 50 miles from Hit. All were attached to the same suburban Cleveland unit.
"Every single one of them is a hero," said Lt. Col. Kevin Rush of the Headquarters and Service Co. 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines based in Brook Park, Ohio.
At least 25 American service members have been killed in Iraq in the past 10 days — all but two in combat. The Iraqi Defense Ministry said that since the beginning of April, more than 2,700 Iraqis — about half of them civilians — had been killed in insurgency-related incidents.
In other developments:
Iraqi Airways has added more international flights to its schedule. A spokesman says Iraqi Airways will resume flights from Baghdad to Istanbul, Turkey tomorrow. It's the first time the route between the two counties has been open since sanctions were imposed in 1991 after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
The U.S. military said a reporter for the Army Times newspaper embedded with American troops was injured in a suicide car bombing Monday evening in western Iraq near the Syrian border. U.S. military spokesman Capt. Duane Limpert had no details on the extent of injuries to the reporter.
An explosion about 5 a.m. Tuesday in Samarra, 60 miles north of the capital, damaged a pipeline used for shipping fuel from the Beiji refinery to a power station in the Baghdad area, police said. Insurgents have frequently targeted the line to interrupt electricity in the Baghdad area — already critically low as demand rises in the summer.
Twelve bodies, bound and shot, were discovered Monday in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Maalif, police said. The corpses, all male between the ages of 18 to 45 years old, were found by residents in a dumpster near the local school, said 1st Lt. Thair Mahmoud.
A suicide car bomber struck a police checkpoint in Mosul, killing four people, three of them police, Brig. Gen. Wathiq Mohammed said.
An explosion damaged a pipeline used for shipping fuel to a Baghdad power station, raising fears of further power cutbacks in the capital.
Fighting has intensified in recent weeks in Haditha, Hit and other dusty towns along the Euphrates River northwest of Baghdad as American forces step up efforts to seal off the approaches to the Syrian border and prevent foreign fighters from entering the country.
The Marines launched a series of operations in the region in May and June in hopes of pacifying the area so that Iraqi military and civilian forces could assume effective control. But the insurgents have proven resilient.
The U.S. command said the six Marines were "engaged by terrorists and killed by small-arms fire" in Haditha, which U.S. and Iraqi officials have identified as a major route for insurgents entering Iraq.
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