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US Military Reports Decline in Militants' Use of Armor-Piercing Bombs

  • VOA News

A top US military commander in Iraq says insurgents are using far fewer deadly armor-piercing explosives in the past three months.

Lieutenant General Ray Odierno told reporters Thursday, via video conference from Iraq, that the number of explosively-formed penetrators that were found or detonated in Iraq has declined since July, when 99 devices were found. He said 53 were found in October.

The United States accuses Iran of supplying the weapons to insurgents in Iraq -- a charge Tehran denies. Odierno ,the deputy commander of the US forces in Iraq says it is unclear if Iran has slowed its alleged supply of the explosives.

He also said it is too early to know whether a reported Iraq-Iran agreement has led to a reduction in the alleged support from Iran.

But US Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he has been told that Iran has assured the Iraqi government it would reduce the flow of armor-piercing explosives into Iraq.

Gates also says security improvements in Iraq are a result of a surge of US forces earlier this year.

In violence Thursday, Iraqi security officials said bomb attacks in Baghdad and its northern suburbs killed at least 16 people and wounded at least 26 others.

Separately, the US military says two American soldiers were killed and two others wounded when a bomb exploded near their vehicle in the northern province of Ninevah on Wednesday. A third soldier was killed in a roadside bombing Wednesday in the northern Salahuddin province.

In other news, an Iraqi government spokesman says Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will attend a regional conference on Iraq in Istanbul Friday.

Wednesday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met in Baghdad with his visiting Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki. Zebari said both Iraq and Iran want the conference in Istanbul to address Iraq's stability and security.

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