Five U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq

January 28, 2008 9:24:43 AM PST
A roadside bomb killed five American soldiers Monday in the northern province described as one of al-Qaida in Iraq's last strongholds, just days after a massive house explosion and suicide attack killed 40 people in the provincial capital. The military did not immediately provide more details on Monday's bombing in Ninevah province. On Sunday, Iraqi army reinforcements moved into positions near the provincial capita of Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, ahead of a planned offensive announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

U.S. commanders describe Mosul as the last major urban center with a significant al-Qaida presence since the terror network has been driven from its strongholds in the capital and Anbar province.

The U.S. military, which a military spokesman said earlier this month was the last urban safe haven for al-Qaida-led insurgents, has said Iraqi security forces will take the lead in Mosul a major test of Washington's plan to, at an undetermined date, shrink the American force and leave it as backup for Iraqi security forces.