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Sunday, November 02, 2003

DEBKA: US losses in Iraq mount Sunday to 18

Highest toll in single day in Iraq War. US military disclosed two American civilian contractors died when their convoy was blown up in Sunni Triangle town of Falujja. Jubilant mob surrounded burning vehicles.
Denver Post: Some aboard downed helicopter from Ft. Carson, Colorado
FALLUJAH, Iraq - Insurgents shot down a U.S. Chinook helicopter in central Iraq today as it carried troops headed for R&R, killing 15 soldiers and wounding 21 in the deadliest single strike against American troops since the start of war.

Some of the soldiers aboard the helicopter were from Fort Carson, a post spokesman said today. It was not immediately known if Fort Carson troops were among the dead, but Lt. Col. Thomas Budzyna said some were wounded.

Fort Carson has sent 12,000 troops, its largest deployment since World War II. At least 20 personnel from the post have died in Iraq, all since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1.

The attack by a shoulder-fired missile was a significant new blow in an Iraq insurgency that escalated in recent days - a "tough week," in the words of the U.S. occupation chief.

Other U.S. soldiers were reported killed today in ground attacks here and elsewhere in central Iraq. The only day that saw more U.S. casualties came March 23, during the first week of the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

Sunday's attacks came amid threats attributed to Saddam's party of a wave of violence against the U.S. occupation. Saturday had been planned as a "Day of Resistance" in Baghdad, though no widespread violence was reported there.

The aircraft was hit at about 9 a.m. local time and crashed amid cornfields near the village of Hasi, about 40 miles southwest of Baghdad and just south of Fallujah, a center of Sunni Muslim resistance to the U.S. occupation.

At the scene, villagers proudly showed off blackened pieces of wreckage to arriving reporters.

Others celebrated word of the helicopter downing, as well as a fresh attack on U.S. soldiers in Fallujah itself, where witnesses said an explosion struck one vehicle in a U.S. Army convoy at about 9 a.m. today local time. They claimed four soldiers died, but U.S. military sources said they couldn't confirm the report.

"This was a new lesson from the resistance, a lesson to the greedy aggressors," one Fallujah resident, who wouldn't give his name, said of the helicopter downing. "They'll never be safe until they get out of our country," he said of the Americans.
UPDATE: See also DEBKAfile's Special Report: "Saddam's 'Muhammad's Army' Behind Chinook Disaster":
Two features are emerging from the escalating wave of violence besetting Iraq:

1. The US military command in Iraq headed by Gen. Ricardo Sanchez is determined to pursue a course that he believes will lead to Saddam Hussein’s capture.

2. US ground operations continue to go forward without adequate intelligence support. In fact, Saddam’s guerrillas appear to have access to a better picture of US troop movements than the Americans command in relation to the Iraqi resistance.

P.S. Anyone considering voting for one of the Democratic presidential candidates who opposed the $87.5 billion supplemental for Iraq, should take special note of this comment by Paul Bremer: Approval of the $87.5bn supplemental for Iraq will make it possible to build and train 27 new Iraqi battalions in one year instead of two . . .