BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — The U.S. military tried to determine
yesterday whether insurgent gunfire caused the crash of two Black
Hawk helicopters, killing 17 soldiers in the worst single loss of
American life since the war in Iraq began.
Meanwhile, an audio tape purportedly by Saddam Hussein urged
Iraqis to escalate attacks against the occupation and “agents
brought by foreign armies” — Iraqis who support the
The speaker on the tape, aired on Al-Arabiya television, said
the only way to end the chaos in Iraq was for Saddam and his now
outlawed Baath Party to return to power.
U.S. soldiers, meanwhile, took the offensive with the military
mounting operations in Baghdad and Saddam’s home region of
central Iraq. The military fired a satellite-guided missile with a
500-pound warhead at a suspected guerrilla training base. Four
insurgents were killed in a separate clash.
“Any of those groups that are working against the best
interest of the Iraqis are going to be targeted,” said Lt.
Col. William MacDonald, spokesman of the 4th Infantry Division.
Strong explosions thundered through central Baghdad after
sundown yesterday, apparently part of “Operation Iron
Hammer,” a new “get tough” strategy of going
after insurgents before they can strike.
Late yesterday, a large number of U.S. troops, backed by armored
vehicles and helicopters, moved into the Sunni Muslim neighborhood
of Azamiyah, sealing off a 20-block area and searching vehicles in
a show of force.
The CIA said it would review the purported Saddam tape for its
authenticity. But President Bush dismissed the recording.
“I suspect it’s same old stuff. It’s
propaganda. We’re not leaving until the job is done, pure and
simple,” Bush said. “I’m sure he’d like to
see us leave, if in fact it’s his voice. I know the elements
of the Baathist party, those who used to torture, maim and kill in
order to stay in power would like to see us leave.”
The voice in the recording resembled Saddam’s, but was
huskier and the speaker appeared tired.