2 U.S. Troops Killed in Baghdad

Iraqi Army soldiers man a checkpoint in the center of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008. A series of explosions thundered in the Iraqi capital Saturday morning, including one from a mortar round that hit the U.S.-controlled Green Zone. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)
AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed
Two U.S. soldiers were killed in separate bombings in Baghdad, the military said Sunday.

One Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier died Sunday after the soldier's vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in northeastern Baghdad, according to a statement.

Another soldier was killed Saturday by a bomb during a foot patrol near Kazimiyah, a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in northern Baghdad, the military said separately.

Identities were not released pending notification of relatives.

The deaths raised to at least 3,934 members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Iraqi Forces To Take Lead In Mosul

Iraqi soldiers reached the northern city of Mosul on Sunday for an operation against al Qaeda in Iraq, days after some 40 people were killed in a house explosion followed by a suicide attack against a senior police official.

The United States has said Iraqi security forces will take the lead in Mosul as a major test of Washington's long-range plans, which seek to keep a smaller American force in Iraq as backup for local soldiers and police.

Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari said most army reinforcements have reached the city, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, although he declined to give a number.

"The operations against al Qaeda in Mosul will start soon," al-Askari said, adding that the operation would include armored vehicles, tanks and helicopters.

An Iraqi military officer in Mosul, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the operation, confirmed that some Iraqi units had arrived on the city's outskirts.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Abdul-Karim Khalaf, said separately that 3,000 residents in Mosul will be recruited to augment the city's police force.

The U.S. military did not indicate it had any plans to send additional forces to the city, which is believed to be the last urban safehaven for al Qaeda-led insurgents.

"Regarding Mosul, an area where we recognize is of strategic importance to al Qaeda, our operations will continue in that area again not in a new way but in a continued way," said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a military spokesman.

Smith said "tens of thousands of pounds of explosive material" were in the abandoned building that exploded Wednesday, devastating nearby houses and killing at least 34 people. But he declined to assign blame.

"We're still working with the Iraqi security forces to determine exactly what happened in terms of why it exploded or how it exploded," Smith said Sunday at a news conference.

The military has said al Qaeda was believed to be behind a suicide attack the next day that killed the Ninevah provincial police chief and two other officers as they toured the site of the blast.

In Other Developments:

  • A former city official was stabbed to death along with his wife and daughter in their home in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in northeastern Baghdad, officials said Sunday. The knife-wielding attackers stormed the two-story house late Saturday, killing Ahmed Jwad Hashim, his wife and their daughter, and leaving a visiting nephew seriously wounded, according to police and hospital officials.

    The slaughter occurred in Talbiyah, a middle-class neighborhood on the fringes of the Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City.

    Neighbors told AP Television News that Hashim, a Shiite engineer from Karbala, had been the director-general of the Baghdad municipality office until he retired about four months ago.

  • Facing criticism that the Iraqi government has failed to take advantage of the lull in violence to make political progress, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to form a new government if ministers from the main Sunni bloc refused to end a boycott of his Cabinet. Six Sunni Arab ministers quit al-Maliki's government in August to protest his perceived Shiite bias, but the main Sunni Accordance Front raised hopes it could reconsider the decision after the Iraqi parliament approved a law that would open the way for low-ranking members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to reclaim government posts and pensions.
  • Eight Iraqi refugees are headed to New Hampshire this week. Officials say the refugees are people who helped the U.S. military's war effort in Iraq and would have been in danger of retaliation had they remained. They will get medical checkups, English lessons and food stamps to help them get started in their new world. In return, they are expected to get a job within four and a half months and eventually repay the cost of their airfare.

    Since 1980, more than 5,000 refugees have been resettled in Manchester from a variety of countries. In the years that followed the first Gulf war in 1991, New Hampshire received 86 Iraqi refugees.

    The U.S. government expects to admit up to 12,000 Iraqi refugees by next October.