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Deaths mount in bloody week for troops in Iraq

Red Cross temporarily pulls out of Baghdad

A Red Cross worker plays with a burn victim Saturday morning. Baghdad's Red Cross is temporarily closing.
A Red Cross worker plays with a burn victim Saturday morning. Baghdad's Red Cross office is temporarily closing.

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U.S. forces are attacking targets near Tikrit, where six U.S. soldiers were killed when a Black Hawk helicopter went down. CNN's Nic Robertson reports
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CNN's Nic Robertson on the deaths of six U.S. soldiers in a Black Hawk copter crash.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Three U.S. soldiers were killed Saturday in two separate vehicle attacks, the latest deaths in a bloody week for Americans.

Thirty-seven U.S. troops and one Polish soldier have died in Iraq in the first week of November alone.

Two soldiers were killed when their vehicle ran over a homemade bomb on a main highway west of Fallujah about 8:30 a.m. (12:30 a.m. ET) near the village of Sichir, about 30 miles (48 km) west of Baghdad.

A third soldier was killed Saturday night when an improvised explosive device hit a mounted convoy in Baghdad's al-Wehda district about 7:45 p.m. (11:45 a.m. ET).

One of the 37 Americans who died this week was killed in a non-hostile incident. Although the military suspects an attack brought down the Black Hawk helicopter that crashed Friday, killing six soldiers, it has not determined that conclusively.

Referring to the Black Hawk crash near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, however, Lt. Col. Steve Russell, commander 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Division, said: "We do believe it was brought down by ground fire."

The military confirmed all other deaths were caused by enemies of the coalition.

U.S. forces Saturday attacked targets in the Tikrit area in what they called a "show of force."

Two F-16s fighter planes flew low over the marshy region and dropped at least two 500-pound bombs near the crash site north of Baghdad. (On the Scene: Nic Robertson)

U.S. forces also used Apache attack helicopters, Bradley fighting vehicles, M1A1 Abrams tanks and close air support, coalition spokesperson Maj. Josslyn Aberle said.

Coalition forces were firing dozens of artillery shells, mortars and howitzers into the area, starting late Friday and continuing early Saturday.

The downing of the Black Hawk came a day after a memorial service for U.S. service members killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down last Sunday. Fifteen were killed in the crash; one died of injuries later.

Red Cross pulls out

The International Red Cross said Saturday it is temporarily closing its Baghdad and Basra offices because of "extremely dangerous" conditions in Iraq, said Florian Westphal, a Red Cross spokesman in Geneva.

"We remain determined to remain active in Iraq," Westphal said, adding the agency would monitor the security situation "day-by-day."

The Red Cross reduced its international staff last month after two staff members and 10 other people were killed in an October 27 car bomb attack on its Baghdad offices.

After that attack, the agency asked its staff members if they wanted to stay in Iraq under the current conditions.

The Red Cross had a staff of 30 international workers and 600 Iraqis before the October attack.

With the latest attacks, 270 U.S. troops have been killed by hostile fire since the war began. Since May 1, when President Bush said major combat was over, 155 U.S. soldiers have been killed by hostile fire.

There is no reliable source for Iraqi civilian or combatant casualty figures, either during the period of major combat or after May 1.

The Associated Press reported an estimated 3,240 civilian Iraqi deaths between March 20 and April 20, but the AP said that the figure was based on records of only half of Iraq's hospitals and the actual number was thought to be significantly higher.

In other developments:

•  Iraqi and coalition forces on Saturday arrested a person they said they think is one of Saddam's former bodyguards. The coalition conducted the early morning raid south of Kirkuk after receiving information that the suspect was involved in recent anti-coalition attacks.

• The U.S. military captured on Saturday 12 people in Iraq suspected to have been were involved in the attack on a Baghdad hotel that killed one U.S. soldier and wounded 15 last month. (Full story)

• Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Saturday the United States in Iraq is walking a fine line between liberator and occupier. (Full story)

CNN's Dana Bash, Jamie McIntyre, Nic Robertson, Matthew Chance and Barbara Starr contributed to this report


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