October 18, 2009 in Nation/World

Insurgents renew attacks, destroy two bridges in Iraq

Uthman Al-Mokhtar Washington Post
Associated Press photo

Iraqi soldiers inspect a bridge destroyed in a truck bomb attack in Ramadi, Iraq, on Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

N.Y. brigade won’t deploy

The Pentagon is canceling plans to send a 3,500-member Army brigade to Iraq, a move that could free up forces as President Barack Obama considers sending new troops to Afghanistan. The 1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team from the 10th Mountain Division based in Fort Drum, N.Y., had been scheduled to relieve another brigade in Iraq in January. But the unit will no longer deploy, the Defense Department said Saturday.

RAMADI, Iraq – Insurgents detonated a truck loaded with five tons of explosives Saturday on a bridge here that links western Iraq to Jordan and Syria, pulverizing part of the overpass and paralyzing traffic for hours.

Another, smaller bridge was also destroyed in Fallujah, where a roadside bomb struck an Iraqi military patrol on the highway, killing four soldiers and wounding 14 others.

The attacks underlined the potency that insurgents still wield in a long-restive Anbar province that the U.S. military and Iraqi government tout as a showcase of their success in defeating the insurgency. They come after numerous attacks that have led many Anbar residents to fear that fighting may worsen as the U.S. military withdraws, insurgents remain and tribal rivalries mount ahead of parliamentary elections in January.

Residents have blamed the attacks on al-Qaida in Iraq, a homegrown insurgent group said to be led by foreigners, and fallout from months of negotiations over alliances for the January elections, particularly in Fallujah, which is in Anbar province.

In each case, the attacks seemed to suggest a certain sophistication. In Fallujah, Lt. Hussein Jum’a said the roadside bomb weighed more than 40 pounds “and was planted on the side of the main highway by experienced hands.”

The larger bridge that was destroyed spanned the Euphrates River in Anbar’s provincial capital, Ramadi. The insurgents were able to smuggle the explosives through checkpoints meant to control traffic in and out of the city. Fighters have targeted bridges in the past, particularly during the peak of the insurgency.

Col. Salih al-Dulaimi, the police commander in Ramadi, said the blast hurled chunks of concrete from the bridge into the river.

Residents said a truck stopped on the middle of the bridge, then detonated. Police said the driver stayed in the vehicle and was killed.

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