Iraq blasts kill 6 Marines
Attacks on U.S. troops up, military says
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Six Marines were killed in roadside bombings in the western Iraqi province of Anbar, the Marines said Friday.
A homemade bomb exploded Thursday near Karma, killing four Marines.
Another blast Thursday killed two Marines on patrol in Qaim.
The number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war stands at 1,953.
U.S. and Iraqi troops have been conducting two major offensives in the province.
The Marines said Friday that they had wrapped up Operation Iron Fist and established new outposts in Sa'da, a town on the Euphrates River near the Syrian border.
More than 50 members of al Qaeda in Iraq were killed in the six-day mission, a Marines statement said.
Troops were still working to drive insurgents out of Haditha, Haqlaniya and Barwana as part of Operation River Gate. Weapons caches were found in Haditha and Haqlaniya, the U.S. military said.
The fighting came amid U.S. military warnings that insurgents may seek to disrupt the October 15 referendum on the new Iraqi constitution. (Watch video of British troops in southern Iraq -- 1:45)
Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, deputy director of operations for the region, said Thursday that attacks on U.S. troops were on the rise.
"Since about April, May, that had been going down, just every month, until last month," Ham said. "And then in September of '05, it started to come back up again."
He said there were about 152,000 American troops in the country -- up from 140,000 in the summer. The Pentagon says the increase in troop levels is a short-term one that will last through this month's referendum vote.
In Baghdad, a U.S.-led coalition spokesman said the same rise in insurgency strikes occurred as the January 30 elections approached.
A suicide car bombing killed 10 people and wounded eight others Thursday near the Iraqi Oil Ministry in eastern Baghdad, police said. The bomb detonated in a red Kia minibus.
Earlier Thursday, a suicide car bomber targeted a convoy of private American security contractors in central Baghdad, wounding eight Iraqi civilians, police said.
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