U.S.-Iraqi Coalition Readies Offensive - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

02/04/07 - Baghdad, Iraq

U.S.-Iraqi Coalition Readies Offensive

U.S. and Iraqi forces on Monday were preparing to launch a major security crackdown in Baghdad to curb sectarian bloodshed as a wave of bombings pushed the country's death toll to more than 1,000 in seven days.

Even as the security plan was being finalized, fresh violence continued to escalate the carnage with fresh explosions across the Iraq capital claiming more lives.

The city was still reeling from a massive suicide truck bomb on Saturday that detonated in a bustling market place, killing nearly 130 people in one of the worst attacks in the city since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.

The United Nations says almost 17,000 people have died from fighting in the last year in Baghdad.

There was no official timeline for the launch of the new security plan, but U.S. Colonel Douglass Heckman, the senior adviser to the 9th Iraqi Army Division, said it was expected to begin shortly after a transition of military control in the city.

"Officially the Baghdad Operational Command takes over tomorrow, so the expectation is that the plan will be implemented soon thereafter, very soon thereafter," he said, according to The Associated Press.

Two Iraqi newspapers have reported the operation, the third attempt since May 2006 to pacify the capital, would begin Monday.

Heckman said thousands of U.S. and Iraqi reinforcements already were in place for the neighborhood-by-neighborhood sweep to clamp off the violence by Sunni insurgents and Shiite militia, AP said.

In the hours running up to the expected launch of the operation a series attacks left at least 26 dead and dozens injured.

These included:

-- A roadside bomb exploded in eastern Mustansriya Square, that killed one person and wounded three others.

-- A mortar round hit a residential building in the Sheik Abdul Qader section of central Baghdad, killing one and wounding six.

-- A car bomb exploded near a a vehicle repair center in the Nahdha commercial area of central Baghdad killed 10 people wounded 15 others.

-- Another 10 died and 60 were wounded when a pair of car bombs exploded in southwestern Baghdad's Saydiya neighborhood.

-- A car bomb exploded near a children's hospital along central Baghdad's Nidhal Street, killing four people and wounding 14 others.

Meanwhile, in the country's main southern port, Basra, a British soldier died in a roadside bombing, a British military spokesman said. The death pushed British fatalities since the start of the conflict to 131 in Iraq.

On Sunday, one U.S. soldier died when a roadside bomb exploded near his armored vehicle that was on patrol north of Baghdad, a U.S. military statement released Monday said.

According to the military, two other soldiers were wounded in the attack, but have returned to duty.

A second U.S. soldier died Sunday from wounds received during combat operations in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, the military said in another statement.

According to the military, the soldier from the Army's Task Force Lightning was hit by small-arms fire from insurgents.

Since the start of the war, the U.S. military has suffered 3,098 fatalities in Iraq.

Story courtesy of CNN Newsource.

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