U.S. Military: 7 Troops Killed in Iraq

By ROBERT H. REID
The Associated Press
Friday, September 7, 2007; 7:23 PM

BAGHDAD -- The U.S. military on Friday announced the deaths of seven more American troops in combat, including four in Anbar province, the Sunni stronghold where U.S. officials say a tribal revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq has brought dramatic improvements in security.

Two of Iraq's top political leaders, meanwhile, raised objections to the planned execution of three former Saddam Hussein lieutenants _ all Sunnis _ convicted of massacring Kurds in the late 1980s.

A hardline Sunni clerical group warned the executions would become a "negative factor" in efforts to reconcile Sunnis and Shiites.

A U.S. statement said four Marines assigned to Multinational Force-West were killed Thursday in combat in Anbar, but gave no further details.

Three soldiers from the Army's Task Force Lightning died Thursday when a bomb exploded near their vehicle in Ninevah, a northern province that includes Iraq's third-largest city Mosul, the military also said.

Those deaths raised to at least 3,760 members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Britain's Defense Ministry also announced Friday that a British soldier was killed two days earlier, but news of the death was kept secret for security reasons. The British statement did not say how or where the soldier died.

However, the British news agency Press Association it was believed the soldier was killed in central Iraq rather than the south where most of Britain's 5,500 soldiers are based. British soldiers serve in a U.S.-run special operations command that hunts al-Qaida in Iraq leaders in central Iraq.

A total of 169 British military or civilian employees have died in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, according to the ministry.

The U.S. statement did not say where the Marines were killed in Anbar, a vast, mostly desert province that extends from the western outskirts of Baghdad to the borders of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

On Monday, President Bush declared Anbar "one of the safest places in Iraq" after many Sunni tribal sheiks broke with al-Qaida in Iraq and threw their support to U.S. efforts to pacify the province.

U.S. officers say Anbar is far from secure. But the top U.S. commander, Gen. David Petraeus, is expected to point to a dramatic drop in violence there when he reports to Congress next week on the situation in Iraq after this year's troop buildup.


CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Associated Press