Attacks on US forces drop 60% in W. Iraq - - Columbia, South Carolina

Attacks on US forces drop 60% in W. Iraq

(Baghdad, Iraq-AP) Jan. 6, 2004 - The commanding general of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division is citing success in reducing the number of attacks on US troops in western Iraq.

Major General Charles Swannack says the incidents have dropped 60 percent. A few months ago, he estimates, there was a high of about 15-to-19 attacks a day. Now, he says the number of attacks ranges from none to five a day.

Swannack calls that a significant drop, and he insists US forces "are on a glide path toward success" in Iraq. He also says most of the attacks are ineffective, since they involve devices that "never come near" US troops. He attributes this to the US military's active pursuit of former regime elements in Iraq.

Also, he says the US has been able to encourage job growth to provide incomes for unemployed Iraqis.

Despite the promising trend, a military convoy escorting a shipment of humanitarian aid came under fire on the streets of Baghdad on Tuesday. At least two people were killed and one truck carrying humanitarian aid donated by Saudi Arabia was damaged in the attack.

It is still unclear who launched the attack and what type of weapon was used against the truck. US troops cordoned off the surrounding area and are still investigating the incident.

A bomb went off Monday near a US military convoy west of Baghdad, injuring three soldiers. Insurgents ambushed a US foot patrol in northern Iraq, injuring another American soldier.

Elsewhere, two mortar shells went off near the coalition headquarters in a southern Iraqi city. No damage or injuries reported.

updated 11:37am by Chris Rees

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