Abayomi Azikiwe, Pan-African News Wire Editor, covering an anti-war demonstration in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 25, 2003 (BBC Photograph).
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire Photo File
Five US soldiers have been killed in a roadside bomb attack in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the US military has said.
A patrol that was hit in the explosion then came under small arms fire before US and Iraqi forces secured the area, Reuters news agency reports.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki announced the start of a major offensive in Mosul on Friday.
The ethnically mixed city has seen a rise in violence over the last year.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/01/28 15:23:59 GMT
Iraq troops prepare for Mosul push
Al-Maliki said Iraqi forces will launch a final offensive against al-Qaeda
Iraqi troop reinforcements are being sent to the northern city of Mosul for an operation against al-Qaeda fighters, security officials have said.
Major-General Riyadh Jalal Tawfiq, commander of military operations in Ninawa province, said on Sunday that the extra Iraqi troops would arrive from Baghdad within hours, without giving figures.
The reinforcements come two days after Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, said that Iraqi forces were preparing for a final offensive against al-Qaeda in Iraq to dislodge them from their last urban stronghold.
US military commanders say the al-Qaeda group has regained power in northern Iraq after being forced out of the western province of Anbar and from around Baghdad last year.
The US military does not have a large presence in Ninawa, of which Mosul is the capital.
It was unclear what role US forces would play in the offensive, which appears to be an Iraqi-led operation.
Al-Maliki's announcement of a new offensive against al-Qaeda came after a blast killed 40 people and wounded 220 in Mosul on Wednesday.
The explosion was in an unoccupied building that officials said was being used by al-Qaeda to store weapons and explosives.
Mohammed al-Askari, defence ministry spokesman, said tanks, armoured vehicles and helicopters were being sent to Iraq's third largest city, 390km north of Baghdad, for an offensive that he said would begin "very soon".
"We will provide everything that is needed for a major operation," he said.
Major-General Abdul-Kareem Khalaf, a spokesman for Iraq's interior ministry, said the Mosul push would include 3,000 extra police.
US and Iraqi troops have launched a series of offensives in northern provinces this year targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq.
The US military said last week that al-Qaeda fighters killed 3,870 civilians and wounded almost 18,000 last year, launching 4,500 attacks in Iraq.
Despite frequent violence in northern Iraq, overall attacks across the country have fallen by 60 per cent since last June.
Blackwater Sues Own Lawyers in Death Suit
January 28, 2008 10:17 AM
From The Blotter:
The Legal Times is reporting that Blackwater has filed a $30 million malpractice suit against the law firm of Wiley Rien alleging that the firm made costly errors during the time it represented the security firm in a wrongful death suit that was filed by the family members of four employees who were killed in Fallujah, Iraq.
In one of the most notorious incidents of the war, the bodies of the four men were dragged through the streets of Fallujah and strung up from a bridge.
The lawsuit is ongoing, and Blackwater is now represented by Greenberg Traurig.
Top Iranian commander warns US
Jafari said Iran had the ability to hit US bases in the Gulf with precision
The chief commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard or Pasdaran has said it is his country's "natural right" to retaliate against any attack by the United States.
However in an interview with Al Jazeera, General Mohammad Ali Jafari sought to reassure Iran's Arab neighbours in the Gulf they would not be targeted in any future conflict.
"We realise that there is worry among neighbouring countries - Muslim countries whose lands host US military stations," Jafari said in an interview broadcast on Saturday.
"However, if the US launches a war against us, and if it uses these stations to attack Iran with missiles, then through the strength and precision of our own missiles, we are capable of targeting only the US military forces who attack us."
The US military has several bases in Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Yemen.
During a recent tour of the Gulf, George Bush, the US president, said Iran is "the leading state sponsor of terror", and said "all options" against Tehran remain on the table.
Many countries in the Gulf who maintain ties with both Washington and Tehran are nervous about the impact of any military confrontation.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies