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U.S. soldier killed in latest ambush

Bush vows to 'see this matter through'

A U.S. soldier from the 1st Armored Division walks among the wreckage at the Baghdad site of Monday's attack.
A U.S. soldier from the 1st Armored Division walks among the wreckage at the Baghdad site of Monday's attack.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A U.S. soldier was killed and four others were wounded in an ambush in northeast Baghdad, the latest in a string of deadly attacks that President Bush Monday called "a part of the war to liberate Iraq."

An Iraqi interpreter was also killed in the incident Monday morning, in which an explosive device was placed on a crash barrier and set off by remote when two 1st Armored Division vehicles drove by, military officials said.

Both vehicles burst into flames, and some nearby Iraqis rushed to help save the troops, cutting their seat belts and pulling them out.

Three wounded soldiers were taken by helicopter to Army hospitals, and a fourth "is considered a walking wounded," said Lt. Alex Kasarda, with the 1st Armored Division.

"This extension of hostilities is really a part of the war to liberate Iraq," said Bush at the Crawford Ranch in Texas. "There are people in Iraq who hate the thought of freedom, there are Saddam apologists who want to try and stay in power through terrorist activities. ... We're patient, we're strong, we're resolute and we will see this matter through."

Monday's death brought the total Americans killed in Iraq to 93 since Bush declared an end to major combat operations on May 1. Of those, 27 deaths have occurred in July. Thirty-six deaths were in hostile action.

In all, 231 members of the U.S. military have been killed in the Iraq war, 151 of them in hostile action.

Gen. John Abizaid was visiting Iraq for the first time since taking over U.S. Central Command. Also getting a first hand look at the situation was Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

Abizaid announced two key measures to crack down on Iraqi insurgents: an alteration in the makeup of the U.S. forces and the creation of a 7,000-strong Iraqi Defense Corps.

Some heavily armored U.S. troops will be replaced with more lightly equipped, mobile troops that will be better able to face to the ongoing security threats, he said.

The Iraqi Defense Corps will be trained by U.S. forces and should be able to operate on the ground in 45 days, he said. Corps members will work as translators and assist U.S. troops in raids, then steadily take over efforts in some areas and allow the United States to withdraw some forces, military officials said.

'Our life is miserable'

Hundreds of unemployed Iraqis lined up Monday seeking work in the Defense Corps. "Our life is miserable and there are no jobs," said Firas Adil Ali. "I used to be a lieutenant in the old Iraqi army and I came here to be employed again in the new army."

With much of the population still out of work, humanitarian efforts lagging in some areas, and U.S. troops facing constant dangers, some lawmakers have called for the United States to turn to the United Nations and bring more countries into Iraq.

"That's exactly what our intention is, to encourage people to participate in making Iraq more secure and more free," said Bush. "A free Iraq is a crucial part of winning the war on terror."

But Bush said U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483, which approved the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq and encouraged the participation of other nations, is adequate as it is.

Sen. John Kerry said Monday the Bush administration is letting "false pride" cloud its judgment in Iraq and interfere with efforts to seek international help rebuilding the war-torn country. The Massachusetts Democrat, a presidential candidate and Vietnam war hero, said his "blood boiled over" when he read reports over the weekend that administration officials suggested they would be "humiliated" to return to the United Nations for help in post-war Iraq.

"Reconstruction efforts shouldn't be viewed as a political exercise," Bush added. "It shouldn't be viewed as an international grab bag." The question, he said, is "how best to quickly establish electricity, clean water, and hospitals and schools -- all the things necessary for a free society to develop."

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday that in a new report given to Security Council members, "We've indicated quite clearly what the U.N. has achieved and has done since the passage of Resolution 1483. And we have also indicated and spelled out the areas where the U.N. can make further contributions."

Annan expressed support for the Iraqi Governing Council, established with the coalition's supervision, which includes representatives from various religious and political factions.

Thousands of Shiite Muslims protested in Baghdad Monday, railing against the new governing council and sending the same central message they have in numerous previous demonstrations: that they want the U.S.-led coalition out of the country.

Annan said his report to the Security Council -- which was written after discussions with Sergio de Mello, the U.N. special representative to Iraq -- indicates "we really need to come up with a road map making it clear to the Iraqis that the occupation is genuinely timebombed and that there are clear steps leading to the restoration of an Iraqi government, in whom sovereignty will be vested.

"And I think once we define that clear political vision and come out with a plan, it will also energize the Iraqis to focus on the future."

An estimated 13,000 troops, mostly British, are in Iraq along with 148,000 U.S. troops. India was asked to contribute 17,000 troops but said last week it would not contribute peacekeepers unless they had U.N. backing.

CNN Correspondents Rym Brahimi and Nic Robertson contributed to this report.

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