Story Highlights• NEW: Ten U.S. combat brigades are told to prepare to deploy late this year
• Car bomb in Kufa leaves at least 16 people dead
• Five police officers killed by suicide bomber at Jalawla police station
• Three killed when roadside bomb strikes minibus in Baghdad
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- About 35,000 U.S. soldiers have been told to prepare for deployment to Iraq in late 2007 to replace troops already in the fight, the Army said Tuesday.
The move will give U.S. commanders the capability to maintain the buildup of American combat forces in Iraq that President Bush announced in January.
But Pentagon officials said no decision has been taken to keep those levels, and White House spokesman Tony Snow said Tuesday's notification "has nothing to do with the surge."
"This is part of the regular process now of trying really to make sure you have predictable deployments and predictable time off between deployments," Snow said.
The Army provides the bulk of the 146,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq. About 15,000 more troops are expected to be deployed by summer to support the U.S.-led effort to pacify Baghdad and neighboring provinces.
Bush ordered nearly 30,000 additional troops to Iraq in January as part of that effort.
The 10 combat brigades that received orders will be deployed for 15 months, in line with the new policy that Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced in April. In exchange, the service will keep soldiers at home for a year between deployments, Gates said.
Tuesday's announcement comes amid a heated debate in Washington on the future of the four-year-old war, which has claimed the lives of nearly 3,400 U.S. service members. (Full story)
Bush has asked for more than $95 billion in new war funding and vetoed a bill written by Democrats that set a March 2008 goal for the withdrawal of U.S. combat units.
Bomb kills 16 near mosque
In Iraq on Tuesday, a parked car bomb exploded near a prominent Shiite mosque in a southern city, killing 16 civilians and wounding at least 64 others, authorities said. (Watch Iraqis inspect remains of a car bomb )
The strike, along with a suicide attack targeting police in Diyala province and a roadside bombing in Baghdad, killed 24 people across the country Tuesday.
The car bombing occurred in Kufa, just northeast of Najaf in a region populated predominantly by Shiite Arabs. The bomb exploded near restaurants in the city's al-Shahristani Square.
A spokesman for the mayor's office said the blast detonated about half a mile from the Kufa Mosque and occurred near restaurants that cater to Shiite pilgrims, who customarily stop there on the way to the Shiite holy city of Najaf. Kufa is about 95 miles (150 kilometers) south of Baghdad.
The roadside bomb exploded near a minibus in southeastern Baghdad's Zafaraniya neighborhood about 8:30 a.m., killing three people and wounding five others, police said.
In the Diyala province town of Jalawla, 35 miles (56 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest under a police uniform detonated inside a police station during morning roll call, killing five police officers, Baquba police officials said. Fifteen other people were wounded.
CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, Basim Mahdi, Barbara Starr and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.
A U.S. Apache helicopter patrols over Baghdad on Tuesday.
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