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US braces for offensive

Baghdad, July 14 (Reuters): The US lost its 32nd soldier in post-war combat in Iraq today, underscoring the hardships Washington faces quashing Iraqi resentment as a new governing council begins work choosing a leader.

The US military is braced for a surge in attacks this week to coincide with anniversaries linked to Saddam, his Baath Party and Iraqi nationalism.

An explosion badly damaged a car in central Baghdad this afternoon, just a few hundred metres from the compound housing Iraq’s newly-formed governing council.

The 25-member governing council of Iraqi leaders, which the US hopes will reduce resentment to its occupation, held its first session yesterday and met again today to decide on its leadership structure.

The council could elect a single chairman or choose to have its presidency rotate among representatives of Iraq’s various religious and ethnic groups, political sources said.

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