Two U.S. soldiers killed, nine wounded by Iraqi soldier in northern Iraq
An Iraqi soldier opened fire at an Iraqi commando base Tuesday, killing two U.S. soldiers and wounding nine others, according to U.S. military spokesmen.
The two deaths were the first for the fewer than 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq serving under Operation New Dawn, an advise and assist mission meant to build up Iraqi forces as the Americans look to fully withdrawal by the end of 2011.
The identities of the two soldiers were being withheld late Tuesday evening pending notification of families, according to a news release from U.S. Forces-Iraq. The incident is under investigation.
The incident began at about 3:50 p.m. at an Iraqi Army commando base near Tuz Khormato, about 130 miles north of Baghdad in Salah ad Din province. The shooter was killed by a U.S. soldier, the news release said.
The Los Angeles Times identified the man as Soran Abdul Rahman Antar.
It’s unclear why the shooter attacked and why no other Iraqi troops were killed or injured in the shootings.
“This is a tragic and cowardly act, which I firmly believe was an isolated incident and is certainly not reflective of the Iraqi Security Forces in Salah ad Din,” Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, the U.S. commander for forces in U.S. Division-North, said in the release.
The U.S. soldiers were part of a security team visiting the compound while a U.S. company commander was meeting with Iraqi security forces, the release said.
The U.S. soldiers were evacuated to Joint Base Balad, a massive U.S. and Iraqi air base north of Baghdad. No further information was available on the condition of the wounded.
The attack also showed that even inside the bases of U.S.-trained Iraqi forces, American soldiers can still face danger. On Sunday, Americans training Iraqi forces at a military headquarters in Baghdad had to help fight off a squad of suicide attackers, two of whom managed to breach the compound in an hourlong battle. U.S. helicopters and drones joined the fight, but no American personnel were hurt.
At least 4,418 U.S. military personnel have been killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.