The U.S. military has acknowledged that the rate and lethality of Sunni attacks have
increased steadily since May. They said U.S. soldiers are attacked up to 20
times a day.
"The enemy has evolved Ñ a little bit more lethal, a little more
a little more sophisticated, and in some cases, a little bit more
U.S. commander in Iraq Lt.Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said. "The evolution is
about what we expected to see over time."
"We believe there is, in fact, a foreign fighter element," Sanchez said.
"There is a terrorist element focused on the coalition and international
community in general and the Iraqi people to try to disrupt the progress
Most of the attacks on U.S. troops stem from roadside bombs, officials
said. They said Saddam loyalists have improved the quality of these bombs,
which can be detonated from hundreds of meters away, Middle East Newsline reported.
"They are using more improvised explosives against us," Sanchez said.
"So he has evolved, he is learning. But so are we and this will continue for
a little while."
Sanchez provided the first data of Iraqi attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq
as well as the rate of casualties. The general said American soldiers are
sustaining between 15 and 20 attacks per day amid the steady flow of
insurgents from Iran and Syria. The figure cited by the general was higher
than that reported by U.S. military spokespeople.
The general did not rule out the prospect of a Sunni attack with a large
number of U.S. casualties. He said coalition forces must be prepared for
"intense fighting" in western Iraq.
"As long as we are here, the coalition needs to be prepared to take
casualties," Sanchez said. "We should not be surprised if one of these
mornings we wake up and there has been a major firefight with some
casualties or a significant terrorist attack that kills significant
numbers of people."
Sanchez said most of the attacks were in Baghdad and the surrounding
region to the north and west. The area is known as the Sunni Triangle and
contains loyalists of deposed President Saddam Hussein as well as Al Qaida
[In Washington, the Bush administration said the U.S. intelligence
community and military have determined that Iraq's nuclear program was far
less advanced than had been assessed. David Kay, appointed by the White
House to investigate Iraqi weapons of mass destruction assets under the
Saddam Hussein regime, said no chemical or biological weapons were found in
Iraq and that the nuclear program was in the "very most rudimentary" stage.]
Sanchez said U.S. troops were being killed at an average of up to six a
week. He said 40 U.S. soldiers have been injured on an average week. The
said the insurgency remains local with signs that a regional leadership is
The Defense Department said 314 U.S. service members have died in Iraq
since the war began on March 20. About 90 of them were killed since May 1,
when the United States declared the end of major combat.
The United States and its allies have launched several measures to stop
the flow of Islamic insurgents into Iraq. Officials said coalition forces
have decided to close the borders with Iran and Syria starting from Friday
in an attempt to halt the flow of Islamic insurgents into Iraq. They said
the coalition would seek to keep the borders closed for up to a month.
Officials said the U.S. military assesses that American casualties will
decrease as Iraqi troops take over many of the security duties. About
100,000 Iraqi military and security forces are expected to complete training
and begin deployment in 2004 along the nation's border and around key
highways and facilities.
On Wednesday, the U.S. military relinquished to Iraqi forces the
responsibility for security at Objective Jaguar, a major ammunition supply
point. The security responsibility for the 12-square-kilometer facility was
assumed by the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.
Officials said Iraqi forces underwent two phases of training by U.S.
troops. In the first phase, the Iraqi recruits spent two weeks in basic
training at Camp Claiborne in Mosul where they were instructed in
marksmanship, drill and other military disciplines. In the second phase,
Iraqi soldiers were trained for a week in how to search vehicles, detain
suspects and guard facilities.