Iraq: 4 soldiers killed near Baghdad

( AP ) - Four more U.S. soldiers were killed in roadside bombings in the Baghdad area, including three in a single strike, the military said Tuesday, raising to at least 19 the number of troop deaths in the first week of August.

The numbers signaled a resurgence in attacks after July saw the lowest number of U.S. casualties in eight months. U.S. commanders have warned they expected militants to try to upstage a September report on military and economic progress in Iraq.

Iraq's political crisis also worsened as five more ministers announced a boycott of Cabinet meetings - leaving Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's unity government with no members affiliated with Sunni political factions.

Al-Maliki, meanwhile, arrived in Turkey for a state visit likely to be dominated by Turkish warnings to either crack down on rebel bases in northern Iraq or face a possible incursion. He was slated to travel to Iran on Wednesday.

The U.S. military said three Task Force Marne soldiers were killed Saturday when a roadside bomb struck their convoy south of Baghdad, the military said.

One Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier was killed and another wounded Monday when their vehicle was targeted by an armor-piercing explosively formed penetrator, or EFP, in a western section of the capital, according to a separate statement.

Washington has accused Iran of supplying Shiite extremists with EFPs to step up attacks against American forces. Tehran denies the allegations.

The military also said earlier that four soldiers were killed in a powerful combat explosion in restive Diyala province north of the capital on Monday.

The deaths raised to at least 19 members of the U.S. military who have died this month, or a rate of about three per day, putting August on track for a heavier toll after a drop in July. Seventy-nine American troop deaths were reported, the lowest number since 70 killed in November.

More than 100 American forces died each month in the April-to-June period as the incoming U.S. troops were deployed with the Iraqi army in Baghdad's dangerous streets and security outposts.

Despite the relatively low number in July, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the U.S. second-in-command, has blamed nearly three-quarters of the attacks on rogue Shiite militias the military believes are being armed and trained by Iran, which he said was increasing its support ahead of the pivotal report to be delivered to Congress in September.

Despite the new U.S. accusations of Iranian meddling, the U.S. and Iranian ambassadors met Monday for their third round of talks in just over two months. The U.S. Embassy called the talks between Ambassador Ryan Crocker and his counterpart, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, "frank and serious."

The new cracks in al-Maliki's government appeared even as U.S. military officials sounded cautious notes of progress on security, citing strides against insurgents linked to al-Qaida in Iraq but also new threats from Iranian-backed Shiite militias.

But it was al-Maliki's troubles that seized the most attention.

The Cabinet boycott of five ministers loyal to former Iraqi leader Ayad Allawi left the government, at least temporarily, without participants who were members of the Sunni political apparatus - a deep blow to the prime minister's attempt to craft reconciliation among the country's majority Shiites and minority Sunnis and Kurds.

The defense minister is from a Sunni background but has no political ties and was chosen by al-Maliki.

The Allawi bloc, a mixture of Sunnis and Shiites, cited al-Maliki's failure to respond to its demands for political reform. The top Sunni political bloc already had pulled its six ministers from the 40-member Cabinet of al-Maliki, a Shiite, last week.

"This decision is a bid to apply political pressure for reforming the political process that is headed in the wrong direction," bloc spokesman Ayad Jamaluddin said Tuesday at a news conference.

He declined to give a deadline but said the bloc's demands included reconsidering efforts to revise legislation to bring thousands of former Saddam Hussein era party officials back into the government and preventing the infiltration of security forces by extremists.

The ministers intend to continue overseeing their ministries.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who has been trying to broker the Sunni bloc's return in a bid to hold the government together, met Monday with Crocker and a White House envoy.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States was working well with the al-Maliki government, but he did not give the kind of enthusiastic endorsement that President Bush and his aides once did.

"There's a very healthy political debate that is going on in Iraq, and that is good," McCormack said. "It's going to be for them (the Iraqi people) to make the judgments about whether or not that government is performing."

Lawmaker Hussam al-Azawi, of the bloc loyal to Allawi, said the boycott began with Monday's Cabinet meeting.

"We demanded broader political participation by all Iraqis to achieve real national reconciliation ... and an end to sectarian favoritism," al-Azawi said.

In Tal Afar to the north, residents of the religiously mixed city faced a curfew after a suicide bomber slammed his truck into a crowded Shiite neighborhood on Monday. The blast killed at least 28 people, including at least 19 children, according to Brig. Gen. Najim Abdullah, who said the dump truck was filled with explosives and covered with a layer of gravel.

Houses collapsed as many families were getting ready for the day ahead.

Several residents said boys and girls were playing hopscotch and marbles outside the houses at the time of the explosion.

"This is an ugly crime. I cannot understand how the insurgents did not think about these children," said one man, Kahlil Atta, a wedding photographer in the city.

Tal Afar, which was cited by Bush last March as a success story after major military operations against insurgents, has been the frequent site of Sunni extremist attacks in the past year.

Japan plans to recruit astronauts in 2021, first time in 13 yrs
Japan plans to recruit astronauts in 2021, first time in 13 yrs
Export of cars from Turkey to Ukraine up – Trade ministry
Export of cars from Turkey to Ukraine up – Trade ministry
Deutsche Bank: Brexit trade costs will be 'material' deal or no deal
Deutsche Bank: Brexit trade costs will be 'material' deal or no deal
Loading Bars
Latest
McDonald's urges dismissal of Black former franchisees' discrimination lawsuit
Sudan becomes third Arab state to set aside hostilities with Israel this year
Artillery units, command post of Armenian armed forces destroyed as result of airstrikes (VIDEO)
Jeyhun Bayramov met with assistant to President for US National Security Affairs
Military volunteers, equipment of Armenian Armed Forces destroyed in directions of Khojavend, Fuzuli (VİDEO)
UAVs of Azerbaijan do not conduct flight over territory of Armenia - MoD
Azerbaijan has enough armored vehicles in its arsenal, uses them in operational situations - MoD
Information on alleged artillery shelling of Khankendi and Khojavend districts by Azerbaijan - not true
Chairperson, deputy chairperson of US - Educated Azerbaijani Alumni Association appeal to US Secretary of State
Yerevan not interested in peace, wants to escalate conflict, make it a regional one, says Azerbaijani's First VP
Information spread by Armenian side on Iran's artillery shelling Azerbaijan’s positions - false
Turkey reduces volume of exports of mining industry
Iran discloses value of exports from Tehran Province
Georgia increases import of ground and instant coffee
Japan plans to recruit astronauts in 2021, first time in 13 yrs
Kazakhstan increases exports to Denmark despite COVID-19
Azerbaijani FM talks Karabakh conflict with US Secretary of State
Azerbaijani Bank of Baku's net profit declines multifold
Member of UK’s House of Lords condemns Armenia’s missile attacks on Azerbaijan’s Ganja
Rejection of UN’s unfair statement – another diplomatic victory for Azerbaijani president
Azerbaijani Xalq Bank's income for 9M2020 published
Data on cargo handling from US via Turkish ports for 9M2020 revealed
Azerbaijani soldiers liberate cities, settlements from occupation one after another - First VP
Export of cars from Turkey to Russia down – Trade ministry
Export of cars from Turkey to Turkmenistan drops
Export of cars from Turkey to Tajikistan down
Export of cars from Turkey to Ukraine up – Trade ministry
Armenia attracting mercenaries to occupied territories of Azerbaijan
Targeting Azerbaijani civilians by Armenia - crime, says Uzbek ambassador
Azerbaijani MoD shows footage of liberated Minbashyly village in Jabrayil district (VIDEO)
Cabinet of Ministers bans entry/exit to several Azerbaijani cities and districts
Armenia poses threat to Trans-Caspian International Transport Route
Azerbaijan's Xalq Bank discloses its assets for 9M2020
Payments with foreign cards down in Georgia
Export operations between Azerbaijan and Croatia double
New terminal to be built in Georgia's Poti port
Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office gives updates on damages, following Armenia's attacks
Meeting between Azerbaijani FM and US secretary of state held
Kazakhstan's import from Poland down amid COVID-19
ADB supports Georgia in its COVID-19 fight
Azerbaijan, Latvia keen to increase mutual investments (PHOTO)
Russian president's statement on Karabakh generally suits Azerbaijan - deputy parliament speaker
Armenians threatening to kill French TV channel's journalist (PHOTOS)
ISET-PI thnk-tank updates its real GDP growth forecast for Georgia
Azerbaijan's troops liberate villages in Khojavend, Jabrayil, Zangilan districts
Azerbaijan liberates 4 Gubadli district villages from Armenia's occupation
Georgia to allocate funds for marketing of its wine
EAEU reveals volume of food oil exports to Turkmenistan
Secretary General of Organization of Islamic Countries supports Azerbaijan
Georgia to issue agricultural loans to promote primary production of annual crops
Turkmenistan's Turkmennebit opens tender for purchase of pipes
Uzbekistan to maintain positive GDP growth despite difficult economic conditions
Uzbekistan’s National Bank likely to be backed by gov't, Fitch Ratings says
Azerbaijani people trust their president - First VP Mehriban Aliyeva
Percentage share of Austria in Azerbaijan's total import slightly grows
Kazakhstan’s KazMunayGas receives ESG rating in sustainable development
Chairman of US Educated Azerbaijani Alumni Association appeals to US Ambassador in Azerbaijan
Surrendered Armenian officer says Karabakh isn't Armenian land
Armenian armed forces' manpower, armored vehicles destroyed, says Azerbaijani MoD (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan itself doing what Minsk Group didn’t - MP
Inflow of funds to Georgia up
Kazakhstan must invest in agriculture technologies oriented towards Kazakh reality
Israel sends humanitarian aid to Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
Uzbek import of cars from Turkey shrinks
Ballistic missile attacks on Gabala and other Azerbaijani cities - vandalism and fascism of Armenian leadership - People's Artist
Volume of nine-month cargo shipment from Germany via Turkish ports revealed
Iran to implement second phase of ring road around Hormoz Island
Turkmengas to buy geophysical equipment via tender
New buses to start serving passengers in Georgian Tbilisi
Deutsche Bank: Brexit trade costs will be 'material' deal or no deal
Metallurgical products import to Uzbekistan to be reduced via metallurgical plant in Tashkent
Stable basic export rate could help boost Iran's exports
Iran to settle all wheat farmers' claims
WB implements new project in Georgia
President Aliyev holds phone conversation with father of National Hero of Azerbaijan Shukur Hamidov
Iran plans to establish trade centers
New company admitted to Baku Stock Exchange
Shukur Hamidov's name will be immortalized in Gubadli district
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for October 23
Iran increases number of emergency beds in hospitals
Ambassador welcomes liberation of Azerbaijan's Agbend settlement on border with Iran
Turkey hopes for achieving success in Karabakh conflict settlement together with Russia - Erdogan
Putin's comments were response to those taking anti-Azerbaijani position, analyst says
Kazakhstan's postal service operator to buy petrol via tender
Discussions on Karabakh conflict held at UN Security Council 25 years later - Assistant to Azerbaijani president
Export of cars to Kyrgyzstan spiked - Turkish Ministry of Trade
Turkmenistan increases fruit imports from EAEU countries
It's incorrect to talk about CSTO's help, while conflict taking place in Karabakh - Russian MFA
Azerbaijan confirms 212 more COVID-19 recoveries
No objective benefit for NATO's open support to any party of Karabakh conflict - Russian expert
Georgia reveals total projected harvest of grapes in 2020
Gold, silver prices in Azerbaijan down
Armenia carries out eco-terrorism against Azerbaijan
Georgia names number of beneficiaries received discount cards under agro-diesel promotion program
Captured Armenian soldier admits presence of foreign mercenaries in Armenia (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Azerbaijani media working hard in information space, demonstrating objectivity, accuracy - MP
Daimler lifts profit forecast as China snaps up luxury cars
U.N. says Libya sides reach ceasefire deal
Azerbaijan's CBA to hold deposit auction on Bloomberg platform
Turkey's nine-month export of cars to Italy drops
All news