US warplanes drop three 500-pound bombs around Fallujah
FALLUJAH, Iraq, Nov 9 (AFP) - US warplanes dropped three 500-pound (227-kilogramme) bombs around the Iraqi town of Fallujah after three soldiers were wounded in an ambush and a second patrol came under fire, the military said Sunday.
The first patrol was hit by rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and small arms fire, leaving three US troops wounded.
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Later, an F-16 fighter jet dropped a 500-pound bomb on suspected combatants who fired on another patrol. Two more 500-pound bombs were then dropped in an open area "near a house associated with heightened enemy activity," the military said in a statement.
The bombs struck in the area where unknown assailants shot down a Chinook transport helicopter last Sunday, killing 16 soldiers in the deadliest single anti-coalition strike since the Americans poured into Iraq last March.
The bombings followed a similar show of force by the 4th Infantry Division near fallen strongman Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit after a Blackhawk chopper smashed to the ground Friday.
The crash killed six soldiers and led some officers to speculate the chopper had been shot down by an RPG, even as military spokesmen maintained they did not yet know what caused its downing.
Asked about the US military's new tactic of warplanes dropping bombs, coalition spokesman Lieutenant Colonel George Krivo defended the strategy.
"We are capable of bringing the fight to our enemies if we need to do so," he said.
"The comanders on the scene are authorised to bring the firepower necessary to both protect coalition forces and Iraqis."
Krivo said similar tactics could be used in the future as they try to beat back insurgents.
"We are on an offensive operation and you can expect to see an increase in the level of intensity and the amount of activities ... in these challenging areas," he said.