15 US Troops Killed in Iraq

Baghdad, Iraq (CBS/AP) - The military announced Thursday the deaths of 15 U.S. troops in Iraq, including five soldiers killed by a single roadside bomb in Northeast Baghdad.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Lee Packnett in Baghdad told CBS News that the Thursday blast also left three Iraqi troops and an interpreter dead.

A rocket-propelled grenade struck a vehicle in northern Baghdad Thursday afternoon, killing one soldier and wounding three others, another statement said.

On Wednesday, four U.S. soldiers were killed when their convoy was struck by a roadside bomb in western Baghdad, according to Packnett.

Southwest of Baghdad, two Task Force Marne soldiers were killed and four were wounded Wednesday when explosions struck near their vehicle, according to a statement issued earlier Thursday.

Two Marines assigned to Multi-National Force — West also were killed Wednesday while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, Packnett said.

None of the troops names were immediately released, pending family notification.

The deaths raised to at least 3,545 members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Also Thursday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that extending deployments of U.S. troops now in Iraq beyond the current 15 months was a "worst-case scenario" and that he didn't anticipate it happening.

He also told a Pentagon news conference he couldn't say how long American forces would have to stay at increased levels in the effort to secure Baghdad.

Meanwhile, a suicide truck bomber struck the city hall in a predominantly Sunni area in northern Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 13 people and wounding 70, an Iraqi commander said.

Several mortars or rockets slammed into the U.S.-controlled Green Zone, raising fresh concerns about the thousands of Americans who live and work in the heavily fortified area in central Baghdad.

The explosion occurred in the town of Sulaiman Bek, located 100 miles north of the capital and just outside the border with Diyala province, where thousands of U.S. troops are engaged in an offensive against al Qaeda in Iraq.

The local Iraqi army commander blamed al Qaeda for the bombing, saying it was the latest in a series of strikes by the terror network against government officials, whom they accuse of collaborating with the U.S. and the Iraqi government.

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