Troops Foil Attack, Lose A Man

U.S. troops patrol the streets in a tank after an attack on a police station, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2003, in Fallujah, 65 km (40 miles) west of Baghdad, Iraq. A U.S. soldier and two Iraqi police officers were injured when an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) struck the station. (AP Photo/Samir Mezban)
The U.S. military said it thwarted a potential attack on American forces in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit on Tuesday, as another U.S. soldier died in a separate incident.

Meanwhile, Iraqi police arrested the brother of one of Saddam Hussein's top bodyguards.

In the Tikrit incident, a military commander says soldiers spotted a man armed with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher as he prepared to fire from an alley. The commander indicates soldiers fired on the man, and that he was hit. But when they got to the site, they couldn't find a body.

Lt. Col. Steve Russell, of the 4th Infantry Division, said, "there's no doubt that we hit him."

The American soldier died in Mosul in northern Iraq when he fell off a building he was guarding. There was no sign of foul play, but the military did not release other details.

In other developments:

  • On Tuesday, an American civilian delivering mail to U.S. forces in the Tikrit region was killed when his truck was blown apart by a remotely detonated land mine north of the city, the military and his employer said.
  • U.S. military sources reported a failed raid last week in the Mosul region in the far north to capture one of Saddam Hussein's most trusted aides and No. 6 on the U.S. list of most-wanted, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. Al-Douri's daughter was married to Saddam's son Odai, who was killed with his brother Qusai in a U.S.-led attack last month on their Mosul hideout.
  • The Arab League voted against recognizing the U.S.-picked Iraqi Governing Council as legitimate representative of the Iraqi people, saying it would wait for Iraqis to elect a government. The BBC reports the League also decided not to send any troops to help with peacekeeping.
  • The Army is urging soldiers in Iraq to take new precautions while officials try to find the cause of a pneumonia outbreak. The Army surgeon general's office is advising troops to avoid dehydration, to be careful when dealing with dust, and to stop smoking.
  • The San Diego Union-Tribune quotes Marine Corps fighter pilots and commanders as saying U.S. warplanes dropped firebombs similar to napalm on Iraqi troops in March and April. They say dozens of incendiary bombs were dropped near bridges to clear the way for troops headed to Baghdad. One colonel says napalm has a big psychological effect and says the "generals love napalm." The Pentagon had denied napalm was used.
  • The British weapons adviser at the center of the controversy over intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was being laid to rest Wednesday.

    After arresting the bodyguard's brother, Iraqi police handed him over to U.S. forces, who wanted the man for allegedly organizing guerrilla attacks against American soldiers, the military reported Wednesday.

    Russell said he could not identify the man — grabbed by Iraqi police on Sunday — but said he was the brother of Adnan Abdullah Abid al-Musslit the top-level Saddam bodyguard who was captured July 29 in Tikrit.

    Al-Musslit, who as "one of Saddam's lifelong bodyguards," was believed to have detailed knowledge of the former president's hiding places, Russell said at the time. He said documents taken from the home and information obtained from the men would be useful in the hunt for Saddam.

    American soldiers in Tikrit, meanwhile, planned to begin training recruits for Iraq's civil defense force in the coming week, Russell told reporters.

    The armed militia will receive basic military training to protect key infrastructure, such as bridges and market places from attacks and sabotage by insurgents and will serve as a quick reaction force to fight rebels who attack U.S. forces or civilian targets, Russell said.

    "They will help protect infrastructure, they will do non-policing tasks so that if there are attacks on government buildings they will be able to respond," Russell said.

    Thirty-five men will be trained initially and will hopefully serve as the core for the new Iraqi defense force. After completing their training — which is expected to last a few weeks — the force will be armed with AK-47s and outfitted in the same "chocolate chip" desert camouflage uniforms that U.S. troops wore during the first Gulf War, Russell said.

    Gen. John Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command, announced the establishment of the militia on July 22 saying there were plans for eight battalions of armed Iraqi militiamen, each with about 850 men. Russell said similar training programs were expected to begin in other parts of Iraq shortly.

    The initial recruits were nominated by tribal leaders in the Tikrit area, Russell said.

    Reviewing progress in Iraq in a press conference Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers note that coalition forces have captured or killed 38 of the 55 most wanted Iraqi leaders and have seized weapons, hired police, started forming an army, begun restoring Iraq's oil industry and started setting up a government.

    Rumsfeld sounded more optimistic about discovering Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Pointing to the recent discovery of buried Russian airplanes, he said if something that big had gone undiscovered for weeks, then surely smaller weapons could be hidden elsewhere.

    Despite some successes, challenges remained for the U.S. reconstruction effort:

    The returned exile who has been running U.S.-backed Iraqi Television has quit. Ahmad al-Rikaby complains that inadequate funding, equipment and staff training has left the network unable to meet the need for objective news or compete with rival networks from such countries as Iraq that criticize American occupation.

    And the Los Angeles Times reports Iraqis are seeing a new type of crime in post-Saddam Iraq: organized kidnapping gangs.