U.S. Jets Bomb Iraqi Bridges

U.S. troops remove a burned vehicle from the road in Baghdad, Monday, Sept.5, 2005. Four civilians died in a car bomb attack on a military convoy. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
U.S. Marine jets Tuesday attacked two bridges across the Euphrates River near the Syrian border to prevent insurgents from moving foreign fighters and munitions toward Baghdad and other cities, the U.S. command said.

A Marine statement also said U.S. and Iraqi forces destroyed a "foreign fighter safe house," killed two foreigners and arrested three others during a Tuesday raid in the same area as the bridge attack.
A Marine statement said F/A-18 jets dropped bombs shortly after midnight on two light bridges near Karabilah, about 185 miles west of Baghdad.

"The purpose of the strike was to prevent al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists from using the structures for vehicular traffic to conduct attacks," the U.S. statement said. "The munitions used in the strike were designed to crater the bridges, rendering them inoperable but not destroying them."

The clash at the safe house occurred when U.S. and Iraqi troops came under fire "by foreign fighters occupying" the building, the Marines said.

"Multinational forces personnel returned fire and assaulted the building, suffering one friendly casualty when a Multinational Force soldier was wounded," the statement said without citing the soldier's nationality.

Troops called in aircraft to destroy the building, "which was being used as an operational headquarters," the statement added.

In related developments:

  • The U.S. command said an American soldier was killed Monday in the northern city of Tal Afar, where fighting has been raging for days between U.S.-Iraqi forces and insurgents said to include foreign fighters. t least 1,890 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
  • U.N. chief Kofi Annan said Iraq had become an even greater terrorist center than Afghanistan under the Taliban. Attacks attributed to al Qaeda's wing in Iraq have stepped up in the Baghdad area and western Iraq.
  • A yearlong probe of the Iraq oil-for-food program has concluded that the United Nations allowed "illicit, unethical, and corrupt behavior" to overwhelm the $64 billion operation. The Independent Inquiry Committee's final report, to be released Wednesday, says the U.N. must adopt sweeping reforms before taking on such tasks again.
  • On Monday, gunmen seized a son of the governor of insurgent-infested Anbar province, Mamoun Sami Rashid al-Alwani, officials said on condition of anonymity for fear of insurgent reprisal. The abduction occurred in the provincial capital of Ramadi, west of Baghdad.

    Karabilah is one of a cluster of towns near the Syrian border, a major infiltration route for foreign fighters heading for Baghdad and other major cities. Iraqi officials say al Qaeda in Iraq, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has taken over parts of the area after residents fled fighting between tribes supporting and opposing the insurgents.

    U.N. Secretary Genarl Kofi Annan told the British Broadcasting Corp. on Monday that many young Muslims are angry, and the situation has been exacerbated by what is happening in Iraq.

    "They feel victimized in their own society; they feel victimized in the West. And they feel there's profiling against them," he said. "And the Iraqi situation has not helped matters."