"One soldier was killed and 34 wounded," revealed a US spokesman on Thursday.   

Late on Wednesday, six mortar rounds slammed into Logistical Base Seitz, west of Baghdad, said a US military spokesman in a statement.

The wounded soldiers were from the 3rd Corps Support Command, the spokesman said.

"The wounded soldiers were given first aid and have been evacuated from the site for further medical treatment," he said.

US officials did not say whether any of the wounds were life-threatening or give further details. The statement did not give a precise location for the camp, but a spokesman described it as "a living area where they have their sleeping quarters."

The latest deaths bring to 216 the number of American combat casualties since US President George Bush declared an end to hostilities in Iraq on 1 May, according to an AFP toll. Since US troops invaded Iraq on 19 March, the Pentagon lists 332 US soldiers as having died in action and 2431 wounded.

More violence

Earlier, US occupation forces said they destroyed a home in Falluja, a hotbed of anti-occupation attacks, west of Baghdad, where furious neighbours said a married couple was killed and their five children orphaned.

They said the couple was innocent in an attack on the troops that led them to shell the house.

"This is democracy? These corpses?" neighbour Raad Majid asked at the hospital, gesturing at the remains of the couple, on gurneys covered with bloody sheets. "It's a crime against humanity." 

British troops take position near 
protesting former Iraqi soldiers

The 82nd Airborne Division said its paratroopers acted after receiving "two rounds of indirect fire" late on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Iraq, a British soldier died in a training accident in southern Basra, bringing the toll for British troops to 53, said a British military spokesman.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, fighters struck an Iraqi police vehicle with a rocket-propelled grenade on Tuesday night. One officer was killed and two were wounded, one seriously, in that attack, said police. 

Also in Kirkuk, a grenade hit the office of the Kurdistan Socialist Party, wounding one person and causing slight damage, police said.

US forces deploy

Despite the ongoing attacks on forces, one of the biggest movement of US forces since World War II gathered steam on Wednesday, with the departure to Iraq of infantry troops from the elite 82nd Airborne Division. 

The soldiers were part of a rotation of US forces that will move about 250,000 troops into and out of Iraq and Afghanistan by May, a massive logistical undertaking that some have likened to a two-way invasion of Normandy.

Hundreds of soldiers boarded military flights at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina for a four to six month stint in Iraq, said army officials.  

"I don't have anything to compare it too... Since Vietnam we haven't done this" 

Lieutenant Colonel Scott Ross
Spokesman
US Transportation Command

Between 2000 and 2200 mostly infantry troops from the division's 1st Brigade, which just returned from Afghanistan in September, will be flying to Iraq over the next two weeks.

US plans call for withdrawing four army divisions and an assortment of smaller combat units from Iraq by May, as a somewhat lighter force consisting of three fresh divisions and several brigades takes their place.

Incoming units are supposed to overlap with those they are replacing, to give troops and their leaders time to adjust, said military officials.

General John Abizaid, the commander of US forces in the region, sees the change as an opportunity to better tailor his forces for resistance operations with fewer heavy armour units and more light infantry, military police and intelligence.

Logistical challenge
 
Just getting a quarter of a million troops in and out of the region will be a logistical feat.

Pentagon is moving entire units,
sometimes with their equipment

The main logistics hub for the move is outside Kuwait City at Camp Arifjan, whose population is expected to boom to about 75,000 troops at the height of the surge. As many as 30,000 pieces of equipment are expected to move through Kuwait, according to officials.
 
"I don't have anything to compare it too," said Lieutenant Colonel Scott Ross, a spokesman for the US Transportation Command, which has spent months planning the move. "Since Vietnam we haven't done this."
 
During the Vietnam war, US troops were switched out individually at the end of their tour. This time, the Pentagon is moving whole units, sometimes with their equipment.