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Five GIs killed in Iraq insurgency attacks

Japan sends team for biggest deployment since World War II

A U.S. Army soldier stands next to a destroyed car on a highway leading to Baghdad's airport on Friday.
A U.S. Army soldier stands next to a destroyed car on a highway leading to Baghdad's airport on Friday.

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4th Infantry Division
Air Self Defense Force
Unrest, Conflicts and War

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Striking several times in a 24-hour period in Iraq's restive "Sunni Triangle" region, insurgents killed five U.S. soldiers, including three Friday north of Baghdad and two Thursday in a mortar attack.

One soldier was killed and one was wounded Friday in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Duluiya, 47 miles (76 kilometers) north of Baghdad, said Master Sgt. Robert Cargie of the 4th Infantry Division.

Another soldier was killed Friday by an improvised explosive device near Ba'qubah, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of the capital. A second soldier was killed in Ba'qubah while attempting to dismantle an explosive.

On Thursday night, the Ba'qubah region was the site of two other U.S. military deaths, according to a 4th Infantry spokesman. Two soldiers were killed and four wounded in a mortar attack on their forward operating base in Ba'qubah, the spokesman said Friday.

The Sunni Triangle is the area north and west of Baghdad, a region in which opposition to the U.S.-led coalition has been the greatest.

In the Iraq war, 474 U.S. troops have died -- 326 under hostile circumstances. Eleven troops have been killed since the beginning of the week.

Four other coalition soldiers were wounded in incidents across Iraq, and troops pressed on with raids to root out the guerrilla infrastructure, bracing for an escalation of attacks during the holidays.

Two U.S. soldiers received minor wounds Friday morning when their patrol came under fire near the northern city of Mosul, a military spokesman said. The spokesman with the Army's 101st Airborne Division said that the patrol exchanged small-arms fire with attackers. The injuries are not considered life threatening, he said.

Gunmen also shot and killed a tribal chief and his son Friday in Mosul, a 101st Airborne Division representative said. Identified as Sheikh Talal al-Khalidi, the chief was a member of the U.S.-appointed local council.

Two coalition soldiers were wounded overnight in an attack near Mahawil, an area controlled by the Polish military.

On Christmas Day, insurgents assaulted targets at or near the "Green Zone," the heavily fortified area in Baghdad where the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority offices are located, and at the Turkish and Iranian embassies.

Soldiers with the Army's 1st Armored Division captured five men suspected of firing rockets at the Coalition Provisional Authority headquarters Thursday night. Two rockets hit near the headquarters, but there were no injuries or damage, said Capt. Jason Beck of the 1st Armored Division.

Holiday not quiet in Baghdad

Sirens blared in the Iraqi capital on Christmas Day after some early morning explosions. Beck said the dawn attacks numbered at least eight and called them "weak and ineffective."

At least two rocket-propelled grenades hit the Sheraton Ishtar Hotel, showering broken glass and debris throughout the lobby and causing some damage to the building's atrium. Hotel staff quickly worked to sweep up the mess.

Another rocket-propelled grenade whistled past the hotel and other rockets exploded near the U.N. compound, Iraqi Interior Ministry and an abandoned police station.

U.S. troops block a road Friday after an explosive goes off in Mosul, north of Baghdad.
U.S. troops block a road Friday after an explosive goes off in Mosul, north of Baghdad.

There were also reports of damage on a nearby apartment block and injuries to a woman and man.

Rockets were fired toward the Turkey Embassy in northeastern Baghdad, and one of them struck the embassy's adjacent residence, a source said.

There were no casualties and only minor damage at the residence, the source said.

The attacks on the coalition stronghold came during a week in which the U.S. military launched Operation Iron Grip, targeting insurgents in Baghdad.

The 1st Armored Division has captured 66 suspects, of which 21 are "considered significant," according to a statement Thursday. The division also has seized weaponry, including 60 122 mm rockets, the statement said.

Task Force All-American soldiers in the central city of Ramadi arrested 10 insurgent suspects and confiscated several weapons, including mortar and artillery rounds, grenade launchers, sticks of dynamite and bomb-making materials, according to the military.

Japanese advance team goes to Iraq

Col. Tadashi Miyagawa, leader of Japan's advance air force contingent, speaks before leaving Friday for Iraq.
Col. Tadashi Miyagawa, leader of Japan's advance air force contingent, speaks before leaving Friday for Iraq.

The first Japanese noncombat troops have left for the Iraq region, beginning the Asian country's biggest overseas military deployment since World War II. (Full story)

The 23 personnel from the Air Self Defense Force flew from Tokyo on Friday and will work as an advance team in cities in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar, Kyodo news agency reported.

They are part of a 40-member group that will prepare for the arrival next month of the force's main detachment, numbering about 150 personnel.

Japan will send about 1,000 noncombat troops to Iraq. The bulk of them are expected to go in February and March.

The Air Self Defense Force team, based in Kuwait, will operate four C-130 transport planes and will ferry food and medical supplies to cities such as Baghdad, Basra, Balad and Mosul, Kyodo reported.

South Korea also approved plans this month to send a new 3,000-strong troop contingent to Iraq.

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