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New Attacks on US Troops in Iraq Raises Fear of Organized Resistance - 2003-07-03

U.S. troops in Iraq came under fire again in three separate attacks that wounded 10 soldiers.

The U.S. military says one of the attacks was on an American Army truck. The truck hit an explosive device, while traveling in the town of Ramadi, about 100 kilometers west of the capital. Six U.S. soldiers were wounded.

A second, much bolder, attack occurred in downtown Baghdad. A man, standing in the sunroof of a car, fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. Army convoy. The grenade exploded beneath an Army Humvee vehicle, wounding three soldiers. Witnesses say U.S. troops returned fire at the retreating attacker in a crowded area, killing an Iraqi bystander and wounding several others.

In west Baghdad, a sniper fired on a foot patrol, wounding an American soldier. Soldiers fired back, killing the attacker and wounding a six year-old boy who was nearby.

The attacks are the latest in a series of ambushes against American and coalition troops in Iraq. The U.S. military says there have been an average of 13 attacks per day in various parts of the country for the past month-and-a-half.

Since President Bush declared an end to major combat here on May 1, 31 coalition troops have been killed by hostile fire, and nearly 200 have been wounded.

The daily attacks and the mounting casualties have raised fears that the coalition forces are facing not isolated attacks, but organized resistance. There is also concern that the attacks could bog down coalition efforts to create a stable post-war Iraq.

U.S. officials blame the attacks on a small number of people still loyal to the ousted Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein. On Wednesday, President Bush told reporters in Washington that he had every confidence that the roughly 146,000 troops in Iraq could deal with the rising violence.

The new commanding general of all ground forces in Iraq, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, is expressing his determination to bring stability and security to the country.

"Every casualty is bad and unacceptable to me, every single casualty that I take," he said. "That does not mean we are not going to accomplish our mission. We have the will. We are not going to waver."

For the past several weeks, coalition forces have been aggressively searching for remnants of the Saddam regime, conducting a series of military operations across Iraq.

One such operation, dubbed Operation Sidewinder began on Sunday. The U.S. military says more than 100 people have been detained in 63 raids.

But with the violence showing no sign of abating, some Iraqis are questioning whether the aggressive searches are creating a more secure environment, or simply fueling more anger toward the coalition troop presence in Iraq.