Soldiers Hit Again

A British soldier looks through the sights of his assault rifle after hearing a gunshot near a petrol station in Basra, southern Iraq,Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2003. Basra residents rioted over the weekend to protest fuel, electricity and water shortages in the southern Iraqi city. ( AP Photo /Sergei Grits)
Attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq have killed three soldiers in the past two days, bringing to 58 the death toll since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1.

The latest attack took place Wednesday morning, about 15 miles south of Tikrit. The military reports a bomb went off near an armored personnel carrier. One soldier died and another was wounded.

The military then reported a soldier's death in a bomb attack that occurred Tuesday near Taji. Two others were wounded.

Another U.S. soldier was killed Tuesday when his Humvee hit three roadside bombs in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad. The total American death toll since the war began rose to 267.

Also Wednesday, Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator of Iraq, says he simply doesn't know how long American troops will have to stay there. He says it depends in part on how soon the Iraqis can assume responsibility for their own security.

In other developments:

  • U.S. troops identified Saddam Hussein loyalists in custody as two key members of the ousted dictator's Republican Guard and a paymaster for his Fedayeen Saddam militia.
  • The military reported killing two Iraqis in separate incidents in the Baqouba region, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad. A military spokeswoman said the two were killed after opening fire on U.S. troops.
  • A top Bush administration official says U.S. troops won't leave Iraq before weapons of mass destruction are found. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he has "absolute confidence" such weapons will be found.
  • The voice of the British weapons adviser who killed himself last month was played back during the official inquiry into his death. David Kelly complained he was uneasy with the wording of a British intelligence report on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, but didn't think government officials were being "willfully dishonest."
  • Worries about security have led U.S. commanders to hire guards for the members of the U.S.-selected Iraqi Governing Council, the Los Angeles Times reports. Security has also been increased for the American reconstruction staff.
  • The battle against U.S. troops in Iraq has become a cause célèbre for militant Islam, The New York Times reports, similar to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan more than two decades ago. "If the Americans succeed here, this will be a monumental blow to everything the terrorists stand for," Barham Saleh, a Kurdish leader, told the newspaper.
  • Iraq began pumping fresh crude oil through a pipeline to Turkey's Mediterranean coast for the first time since the war, a Turkish oil official said.
  • A group representing some military families and veterans is demanding an end to the U.S. operation in Iraq. Nancy Lessin, one of the co-founders of Military Families Speak Out, argues there was no justification to send U.S. troops into Iraq.

    The four aides to Saddam were captured along with 10 other men in a raid in Tikrit on Tuesday/

    The military still has not released the names of the aides but said the four included a Republican Guard corps-level chief of staff, a guard division commander and a paymaster for the militia. A fourth man kept in custody was not identified at all.

    None of the identified detainees is among the 55 most-wanted Iraqis featured on the Army's deck of playing cards.

    All those detained in the sweep were members of a family described as a pillar of support for the ousted regime, said U.S. Lt. Col. Steve Russell.

    "They were trying to support the remnants of the former regime by organizing attacks, through funding and by trying to hide former regime members," Russell said.

    On Tuesday, Bremer urged Iraqis and the world to look beyond the daily shootouts and power cuts to newly found freedoms in Iraq.

    "I don't accept the definition of a country in chaos. Most of this country is at peace," L. Paul Bremer told reporters.

    "We have a problem with attacks against coalition forces in a small area of the country by a small group of bitter-end people who are resisting the new Iraq. We will deal with them and we will dominate them. They will either be killed or they will be captured."

    Bremer said that while Iraqis complain of unsafe streets and shortages of power, they must also realize that Saddam's fall has improved their lives.

    "I think it's important to … look beyond the shootouts and blackouts and remind ourselves of a range of rights that Iraqis enjoy today because of the coalition's military victory," he said.