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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Three US soldiers killed in Iraq
A US soldier keeps watch, as members of Ghreir tribe from Hillah, 80 kms south of Baghdad, demand the release of their leaders
US soldiers continue to be the target of attacks

Three American soldiers have been killed in an attack in northern Iraq, a US military spokesman has said.

Their deaths bring to five the number of US troops killed since Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, died in a shoot-out with American forces on Tuesday.

Later on Thursday, eyewitnesses reported the explosion of a US military vehicle in southern Baghdad.

Shortly afterwards, the US published photos of the bodies of Uday and Qusay in an apparent effort to persuade the Iraqi people that they have indeed been killed.

Washington hopes the evidence will undermine resistance to coalition forces in Iraq.

A group loyal to Saddam Hussein has vowed to take revenge for the killing of the ousted leader's sons.

The threat, made by a masked man who said he was from the Saddam Fedayeen militia in a video broadcast by al-Arabiya television, echoed one televised previously on the al-Jazeera network.

Fear of return

The American decision to release the photographs has been backed by a member of the interim Iraqi Governing Council.

Adnan Pachachi told the BBC the pictures must be shown to convince the Iraqi people that the two men were no longer a threat.

1. Sunni triangle
2. Baghdad
3. Northern Iraq
4. Majar al Kabir

"There has been a feeling that perhaps the regime will come back in one form or another," he said.

Thursday's attack took place as a convoy from the 101st Airborne Division was travelling towards a village south-east of the city of Mosul, according to the US military.

The soldiers came under small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire.

In a separate incident on Thursday afternoon, eyewitnesses spoke of a powerful explosion that left a US humvee vehicle badly charred and mangled in southern Baghdad.

There was no immediate official confirmation of the incident, but a US soldier at the scene told French news agency AFP that one of his colleagues had been wounded.

Two other soldiers were killed on Wednesday in separate attacks that also left eight wounded.

Awash with weapons

Since 1 May, when President George W Bush declared that major combat was over, US Central Command has reported the deaths of 80 American service personnel in Iraq.

More than 40 of the dead were killed in fighting, usually in ambushes.

Masked man vows to avenge the death of Saddam Hussein's sons in a video sent to al-Arabiya
The Fedayeen threat was the second in two days
The US military hopes that the brothers' deaths will eventually persuade some of the resistance that the struggle is pointless.

The latest attacks have fuelled fears that the insurgency is gathering, not losing pace.

But Mr Pachachi said he did not believe the assaults on American troops were co-ordinated nationwide.

Some were acts of vengeance or were carried out by remnants of the Baath Party who had infiltrated extremist religious groups, he said.

"The problem is that Iraq is awash with weapons and a lot of weapons are around. And it is impossible to control the situation without an adequate Iraqi police force."


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"The US forces are maintaining a high profile in Mosul"




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