By Claudia Parsons BAGHDAD, Reuters
A car bomb killed 10 people and wounded 21 near a vegetable market in Baghdad on Wednesday, Iraqi police said, as insurgents kept up a campaign of bombings despite a security crackdown backed by U.S. reinforcements.
U.S. President George W. Bush is sending 21,500 extra troops to Iraq, most to Baghdad, where Iraqi and U.S. patrols and security outposts have been stepped up in a bid to halt sectarian violence that was killing hundreds of people a week.
As part of efforts to stabilize Iraq, Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Tuesday that Iran and Syria would be among regional states sending officials to join U.S. and British envoys at a meeting in Baghdad next month.
The United States said it would attend, opening the way to a dialogue that critics have long demanded.
In the latest bomb attack on Wednesday, police said a car bomb exploded on a commercial street in the Bayaa neighborhood of the Iraqi capital, killing 10 people.
U.S. military spokesman Rear Admiral Mark Fox said on Wednesday there were “encouraging signs” in the security plan, notably a decrease in sectarian death squad abductions and killings, but bombings were still a problem.
“We’re very early in the process,” he told reporters.
Washington accuses Iran and Syria of fuelling the violence in Iraq and has spurned suggestions — including in the December report of a high-level Iraq Study Group — that recommended reaching out to both to try to stabilize Iraq.