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Iraq Transition

Iraq to temporarily close borders with Iran, Syria

Story Highlights

Iraq to close borders with Syria and Iran for 72 hours
U.S. helicopter likely shot down, Marine Corps says
Suicide truck bombing kills 16, wounds 40 in Baghdad
Al Qaeda in Iraq accused in Monday bombings that killed 90
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq plans to close its borders with Iran and Syria for 72 hours in an attempt to secure the capital, the Iraqi commander in charge of Baghdad's security plan announced Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, spelled out the details of the security crackdown in a televised address Tuesday.

During the closures, Iraqi officials will install improved security equipment at checkpoints, including upgraded bomb detection devices, an Iraqi official told CNN.

Qanbar did not say when the borders would close, but a government official said it was expected within two days, The Associated Press reported.

Baghdad's curfew will being extended during the closures, and Iraqi forces plan to suspend civilian licenses for weapons and ammunition.

Qanbar's announcement warned citizens they will be subject to "interrogating, searching and detaining people when necessary and in accordance with the law."

The security plan covers 10 districts in Baghdad.

Some observers have predicted that followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mehdi Army militia -- which has been blamed for a large part of the sectarian violence in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq -- would be overlooked, because the al-Sadr movement has backed al-Maliki, who is also a Shiite.

Helicopter likely shot down

The U.S. Marine Corps now believes an American helicopter that crashed in Iraq last week was most likely shot down by insurgents, a senior officer told CNN Tuesday.

The Marines had said that the CH-46 helicopter went down because of mechanical failure, but they changed their minds after reviewing a "very convincing" video posted on the Web by insurgents, the Marine officer said.

The 2 minute, 31 second video shows the twin-rotor helicopter being struck by a projectile. Smoke bursts from the helicopter, which then speeds out of control toward land. Eventually the image of the craft morphs into a smoke-filled streak and crashes. (Watch the helicopter spew smoke and flames Video)

The video was released by the Islamic State in Iraq, an umbrella militant group that includes al Qaeda in Iraq, and produced by Al Furqan Media, an insurgent operation.

The Marines are relying on the insurgent video because the wreckage of helicopter was damaged by a fire on the ground. Marines who came along shortly after the crash destroyed the rest of the chopper so insurgents would not be able to get their hands on it. At the time, the Marines believed mechanical failure was the cause.

All seven people on board were killed in the February 7 crash. The helicopter was carrying medical supplies.

Six helicopters -- four military and two operated by civilian contractors --have been involved in crashes in Iraq in the past three weeks. Five of six were the result of enemy fire, the U.S. military has concluded.

Suicide bomb kills 16

A suicide bomber detonated a powerful truck bomb outside a Ministry of Trade food warehouse in northwestern Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 16 people and wounding 40 others, an Interior Ministry official said.

The attack took place around 10 a.m. (2 a.m. ET) in the capital's Iskan district, a predominantly Shiite area of town.

Police also found a booby-trapped ambulance about 500 yards away, but they were able to defuse all of the explosives, the AP reported.

Another car bomb exploded outside a bakery in southeastern Baghdad hours later. Four people were killed and several others were wounded, a Baghdad police official said.

Tuesday's violence comes a day after five explosions ripped through central Baghdad, killing at least 90 people and wounding more than 190 others.

Iraq's Interior Ministry accused al Qaeda in Iraq of responsibility for the deadliest of Monday's attacks and detained three people, including two foreigners and an Iraqi.

Monday's deadly bombings exploded amid memorials marking last year's attack on a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra.

The February 22, 2006, bombing is blamed for sparking sectarian violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. It has been a year since the attack, according to the Islamic calendar. (Watch flames, rubble, smoke after "utterly tragic" market bomb blasts Video)

Other developments

  • A U.S. soldier was killed Sunday during combat operations in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, a U.S. military statement released Tuesday said.
  • The Iraqi High Tribunal on Monday sentenced former Iraqi vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan to death by hanging in the Dujail case, according to a source close to the proceeding. In 1982, 148 men and boys were killed in Dujail, Iraq, after an assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein. (Full story)
  • Calling them "all lies," an Iranian Embassy official Monday denied U.S. allegations that an elite Iranian force under the command of Iran's supreme leader is behind bombings that have killed coalition forces in Iraq. (Full story)
  • CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

    Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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    Iraqis walk past a pool of blood at the site where a suicide bomber detonated a truck bomb in Baghdad on Tuesday.





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