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Rocket Attacks in Baghdad Cause Minor Damage - 2004-07-02

Insurgents in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, have fired rockets at two hotels popular with Westerners. Only injuries were reported, but the attack was a reminder that this week's handover of power has not persuaded rebels to end their attacks, which U.S. officials say they expect will increase. With 140,000 American troops forming the backbone of Iraqi security, two Arab countries are now offering to send peacekeeping troops to the country as well.

A U.S. military spokesman at the scene says Friday's attack on Baghdad's Sheraton Hotel occurred after a vehicle pulled up, "...and fired a series of rockets toward it. At some point during the attack, evidently the ordinance on the vehicle exploded."

It caused only minor damage to the hotel itself. The attack came though, on the same day that two more American Marines died in combat.

Even though the U.S.-led military coalition has now handed political power back to an interim Iraqi government, more than 150,000, mostly American, peacekeeping troops remain in the country battling an on-going insurgency. With the Pentagon now preparing to recall soldiers for duty who have already left the service, Jordan's King Abdullah tells British television he has changed his mind and would now consider sending Jordanian troops to Iraq if the Baghdad government requests them.

"If the Iraqis ask us for help directly, it would be very difficult for us to say no," he said.

And unnamed foreign ministry officials in Yemen tell the Associated Press Yemeni troops could also be sent to Iraq, provided the peacekeeping mission there is put under United Nations command. Either country would become the first Arab nation to contribute troops to the Iraq mission.