BAGHDAD -- Seven U.S. troops were killed yesterday in three roadside bomb attacks, the military announced.
The deaths came as Iraq's Parliament agreed to cut its summer holiday in half, and some observers said a deal had been reached on a law to share the country's oil wealth.
Both legislative developments were signs that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was creeping toward meeting White House demands to show political progress and stem sectarian violence that continues to claim Iraqi and U.S. lives.
Before the vote to extend its session, the Parliament was scheduled to recess for July and August. Iraqi lawmakers denied that the decision to continue working through the end of July was due to American pressure and said they were trying to make progress on legislation. But some U.S. leaders, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, have visited Iraq recently to tell lawmakers they should not recess while the U.S. is in the midst of its troop buildup.
Although the apparent agreement on oil revenue sharing is the first sign of tangible progress in months, Iraqis have announced agreements before, only to see legislation stall. So there were no guarantees the deals struck yesterday will result in concrete measures.
It was a violent week in Iraq, with several catastrophic roadside bomb attacks that have caused multiple U.S. casualties.
The attacks continued yesterday, with the deaths of four soldiers in a roadside bombing northwest of Baghdad. Two other soldiers died in a roadside bombing followed by small-arms fire yesterday in eastern Baghdad, and an airman died when an explosive device detonated yesterday near his vehicle in Tikrit, the military said.
One other soldier was reported killed yesterday in a noncombat incident.
In Baghdad, police reported finding the bodies of 15 people, all presumed victims of sectarian violence. In Hilla, police said a car bomb killed four people and injured 18. Hospital officials in Samarra reported clashes between police and militants left five Iraqi civilians dead. Residents also reported that after the clash, police dragged the body of one of the militants through the streets then hung it from a telephone pole.
The U.S. military announced early yesterday that at least 17 al-Qaida militants had been killed on the fourth day of combat operations in Diyala province.
Julian E. Barnes and Raheem Salman write for the Los Angeles Times.