7 Americans killed in Iraq; U.S. strikes near Syrian border

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Incidents make October deadliest month since January for U.S. troops.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Six American soldiers were killed in separate attacks Monday and a Marine died in action the day before, making October the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq since January. A car bomb exploded in Basra during evening Ramadan festivities, killing at least 20 people.

Earlier Monday, U.S. jets struck insurgent targets near the Syrian border and at least six people were killed.

Four soldiers from the Army's Task Force Baghdad soldiers died when their patrol struck a roadside bomb in Youssifiyah, 12 miles south of Baghdad in an area known as the "triangle of death."

Two other soldiers from the 29th Brigade Combat Team were also killed in a bombing Monday near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. The U.S. military also said a Marine was killed Sunday near Amiriyah, 25 miles west of Baghdad.

Those deaths raised the death toll for October to more than 90, the highest monthly total since January when 107 American service members died. The latest deaths brought to 2,025 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said there is no readily apparent explanation for why the number of U.S. casualties was higher in October than in previous months. But he said the insurgents' roadside bombs -- which the military calls improvised explosive devices, or IEDs -- are getting more sophisticated.

"We see an adversary that continues to develop some sophistication on very deadly and increasingly precise stand-off type weapons -- IEDs, in particular. They're obviously quite capable of killing large numbers of noncombatants indiscriminately, and we're seeing a lot of that, too," Di Rita told reporters.

The insurgents continually search for new and more effective ways to use IEDs, he said, while U.S. forces look for new ways to counter the IED threat.

"We're getting more intelligence that's allowing us to stop more of these things, find more of them. So we're learning from them [the insurgents] and the enemy is learning from us, and it's going to be that way for as long as there is an insurgency," Di Rita said.

The car bomb in the southern city of Basra exploded about 8:30 p.m. in a commercial district filled with shops and restaurants, killing at least 20 people and wounding about 40, police Lt. Col. Karim al-Zaidi. The restaurants had been packed in the evening with people breaking their fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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