September 5, 2010 by staff
BAGHDAD, BAGHDAD – AP – Days after U.S. officially ended combat operations and has been hailed Iraq’s ability to defend itself, U.S. troops were fighting heavily armed militants attacking Iraqi military barracks in central Baghdad on Sunday. The fighting killed 12 people and wounded dozens.
It was the first exchange of fire with U.S. troops in Baghdad since the August 31 deadline for formally ending the combat mission, and demonstrated that American troops remain in the country are being recruited to fight.
The attack also made it clear what kind of security breaches that have left Iraqis care of U.S. reduction and distrust of the ability of Iraqi forces now take the ultimate responsibility of protecting the country.
An assault on Sunday was the second in two weeks on the premises, the venue for the 11th Iraqi Army Division, which points to the failure of Iraqi forces to cover even more obvious holes in their security.
Two of the four attackers even managed to fight her way into the compound and were killed only after running out of ammunition and detonating explosive belts they were wearing.
American troops joined the fight and provided covering fire for the Iraqi soldiers the achievement of the attackers were based on the complex to train Iraqi forces, said military spokesman, U.S. Lt. Col. Eric Bloom. Iraqi forces also sought the help of U.S. helicopters, drones and bomb experts said. No U.S. soldier was wounded, said Bloom.
Under an agreement between the two countries, Iraq can still use U.S. forces to help combat and U.S. troops can defend themselves if attacked.
In Sunday’s assault, six militants with suicide vests and matching track suits and armed with machine guns and hand grenades stopped at a checkpoint with a car loaded with explosives, said a senior Iraqi military intelligence officer who was inside the building at the time.
The six assailants left the car and started shooting, killing one soldier at the checkpoint, he said. Guards at an observation tower returned fire, killing four militants, while two went into a building in the military compound.
Iraqi soldiers shot dead a seventh attacker driving the vehicle, causing the car bomb to explode, the official said. The explosion left a huge crater in the ground.
The fight ended after the two assailants who broke the site ran out of bullets and detonated their explosive vests, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
Two weeks earlier, a suicide bomber to al-Qaida ran into a crowd of hundreds of army recruits outside the building and detonated an explosion that killed 61 people. That was the act of violence in Baghdad in months.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack.
Baghdad has been on alert since President Barack Obama officially declared an end to U.S. combat operations on Wednesday, creating more checkpoints, more intensive searches of people and vehicles and the delivery of more weapons and bullets to the troops guarding the capital.
The number of U.S. troops has fallen from a peak of 170 000 to just under 50,000 in August, all U.S. troops should be out of Iraq in 2012.
The remaining soldiers of America have a role mainly non-combatants and help the Iraqis in stabilizing the country. However, U.S. forces can still help search for Iraqi forces on Al Qaeda and other militants and can defend themselves or their bases from attack.
The insurgents have intensified their attacks against Iraqi police and soldiers to mark the change in the mission of the U.S.
Political instability in Iraq seems to be threatening the country’s security. Six months after an inconclusive election, Iraq still has no new government. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, is struggling to keep his job after his political coalition was in a close second to an alliance between Sunnis and endorsed in a vote of 07 March.
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