Five American soldiers were killed and seven wounded in a coordinated attack in southern Baghdad involving a roadside bomb and rocket-propelled grenades, the U.S. military announced Friday.
The soldiers were on a combat patrol when a roadside bomb exploded near them on Thursday, the military said in a statement. Shortly after the blast, insurgents attacked with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, it said.
All seven wounded soldiers were evacuated to a military hospital, and one has since returned to duty, the military said. The victims' names were withheld pending family notification.
The deaths brought to 99 the number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq this month, according to an Associated Press count. The toll for the past three months — 329 — made it the deadliest quarter for U.S. troops in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.
At least 3,576 members of the U.S. military have died since then, according to AP figures. The number includes seven military civilians. At least 2,936 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.
In other developments:
Meanwhile, radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr postponed a Shiite march to a bombed shrine north of Baghdad that was scheduled for July 5, an aide said.
"Muqtada al-Sadr has decided to postpone the march to Samarra for several reasons, including the government's inability to secure the route and many officials' appeals for a postponement," said Sheik Asad Al-Nassiri, an aide to the cleric. He made the announcement during a Friday sermon in nearby Kufa.
Sunni organizations and government officials had urged al-Sadr to cancel the march to the Askariya shrine in Samarra, which was bombed for a second time earlier this month, fearing it would escalate sectarian violence that already has claimed thousands of lives.
Al-Sadr had said the march was aimed at bringing Shiites and Sunnis closer together and breaking down the barriers imposed by the Americans and Sunni religious extremists.
Also Friday, the British military issued a statement saying all of its bases came under attack from mortars or rockets in the past 24 hours, but there were no casualties or damage.
Britain maintains a force of about 5,500 troops based mainly on the fringes of Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.