Insurgents switch to small teams to hit Iraqi forces

Monday, December 6, 2004

BAGHDAD Sunni insurgents have renewed a campaign against Iraqi security forces and employees of the U.S.-led military coalition.

About 40 Iraqis were killed on Sunday in a series of Sunni attacks on Iraqi forces and employees of the U.S. military. Officials said 17 Iraqi employees of the U.S. military were killed as they were heading for their jobs at a U.S. military facility in Tikrit.

Another four Iraqi security forces were killed in other Sunni strikes in the Tikrit area, officials said. They said insurgents sprayed semi-automatic fire toward buses carrying the Iraqis to work, Middle East Newsline reported.

Officials said the U.S. military has assessed that the latest strikes reflect a new tactic of the Sunni insurgency. They said Sunni insurgents appear to have returned to the use of small squads for hit-and-run operations against the coalition and Iraqi security forces in wake of the massive U.S. attack on Faluja, regarded as the base of the Sunni command.

So far, nearly 350 Iraqi government employees or workers for the coalition have been killed since October 2004. Officials said about 80 people have been killed in Sunni insurgency strikes over the last three days.

"They'll fight in small teams," Brig. Gen. John DeFreitas, the chief of U.S. Army intelligence in Iraq, said. "We get some sense that they're thinking of adopting more guerrilla-type tactics small teams, hit-and-run."

In Mosul, Sunni insurgents struck Kurdish security forces in a suicide car bombing. Officials said 17 officers were killed when two cars packed with explosives rammed into the Kurdish Peshmerga convoy on Dec. 4. The Tawhid and Jihad group led by Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi claimed responsibility.

Sunni insurgents also struck Baghdad over the weekend. Two car bombs exploded in the Iraqi capital on Sunday, in which four police officers were killed and another 49 were injured. Al Zarqawi also claimed responsibility for that attack.

U.S. military units were also targeted in the Sunni campaign. At least four coalition soldiers were killed over the weekend in roadside bomb strikes in Baghdad and Baquba.

Two other American soldiers were killed and four others were injured in Mosul on Dec. 4. Officials said the soldiers, members of Task Force Olympia, were conducting a patrol when they were fired on from a mosque.

U.S. troops also detained 64 suspected insurgents in Mosul and collected a large amount of weapons and munitions. The weapons included 120 mm, 82 mm and 60 mm mortar tube and rounds. The cache also included 12 chemical-protective masks, two chemical protective suits and a set of night-vision goggles.

The U.S. military also announced deliveries of weapons and equipment to Iraq's military and security forces. The equipment delivered in November included 5,400 AK-47 assault rifles, about 2,000 9 mm Glock pistols, 78 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, armored personnel carriers and four Russian-designed battle tanks.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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