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3 American Soldiers Killed in Iraq

Jan 15, 2011 – 8:30 AM
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Lara Jakes

BAGHDAD - Two U.S. soldiers were killed by an Iraqi trooper who opened fire on them during a training exercise Saturday, raising fresh concerns about Iraq's security forces as the Americans prepare to withdraw from the country by the end of this year.

Another soldier was killed Saturday during a military operation in central Iraq, making it one of the deadliest days for U.S. forces in the country in months.

A U.S. statement confirmed that two soldiers were killed and one was wounded in northern Iraq but gave no further details.

But U.S. and Iraqi officials said the shooting occurred during a training exercise at Forward Operating Base Marez, in the northern city of Mosul. A U.S. official said only one Iraqi soldier appeared to have fired on the Americans. But two Iraqi officials said two assailants were captured.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

The exercise in Mosul was a final drill to showcase U.S. efforts to train Iraqi forces before a Monday visit by top U.S. and Iraqi generals.

Both nations have been eager to highlight Iraq's security forces before U.S. troops leave the county at the end of the year after eight years of war.

An Iraqi military official said the exercise was designed to train security forces how to launch attacks and capture suspects.

The U.S. soldiers were from the 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, based at Ft. Hood, Texas.

Attacks by Iraqi soldiers and police against Americans are not unprecedented, especially in Mosul, a former al-Qaida haven and Iraq's third-largest city, located 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad.

In May 2009, two U.S. soldiers were killed and three were wounded in Mosul by a gunman wearing an Iraqi army uniform. Three months earlier, two Iraqi policemen opened fire on U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police who were lunching at a Mosul police station. The attack killed a U.S. soldier and his interpreter.

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Additionally, two U.S. soldiers were killed and six wounded Nov. 12, 2008, when an Iraqi trooper opened fire on them in an Iraqi outpost in Mosul. The Iraqi was killed.

And just one week after the U.S. military triumphantly announced it had withdrawn all but 50,000 troops to mark the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq, two American troops were killed by an Iraqi soldier during a visit to an Iraqi army base near Kirkuk, also in northern Iraq. The American soldiers were at the base to protect an Iraqi military commander.

Deaths among American service members have fallen dramatically since the deadliest days of the war.

On Sept. 24, three soldiers involved in the Iraq combat mission died in separate noncombat incidents, but one was in Kuwait.

Four U.S. service members were killed by hostile fire in September 8, 2009.

Associated Press Writers Hamid Ahmed, Sinan Salaheddin and Robert H. Reid in Baghdad contributed to this report.
Filed under: World