updated 7/7/2011 2:43:18 PM ET 2011-07-07T18:43:18

A roadside bomb killed two U.S. soldiers Thursday outside the main American military base in Baghdad in what U.S. officials said appeared to be another attack by Shiite militias hoping to drive U.S. troops out of Iraq.

The attack follows the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq in two years. Fifteen U.S. soldiers died in June, nearly all in attacks by Shiite militias.

The 46,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Iraq are to leave by year's end under a 2008 withdrawal agreement. However, the White House is offering to keep up to 10,000 American soldiers in the country beyond that deadline, if asked by Iraq, to help stabilize the country's still-shaky security and keep Iran from becoming too cozy with Baghdad officials.

Story: Sources: 10,000 US troops could remain in Iraq

Thursday's bomb, which was detonated near a checkpoint outside Victory Base Camp, was a powerful armor-piercing explosive known as an EFP, according to two military officials with knowledge of the attack.

EFPs typically are designed and outfitted in Iran, and are a trademark of the Shiite militia headed by anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the details have not been officially released.

A spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq did not have an immediate comment about the attack.

Victory Base Camp serves as the headquarters of the U.S. military in Iraq, and is home to thousands of American soldiers and contractors.

The slain soldiers were not identified pending notification of their relatives, and no other details were immediately available.

While the White House is considering keeping some U.S. soldiers in Iraq beyond this year, some U.S. officials oppose an extension. They fear the recent uptick in American deaths will continue if soldiers remain in Iraq — a risk they say is not worth taking.

Story: Twin explosions kill dozens in Iraqi town of Taji

The most recent attack brings the number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq to 4,471 since the 2003 invasion, according to an Associated Press count.

Iraq and Iran have the only two Shiite-led governments in the region. U.S.-allied Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors, are concerned about what they perceive to be Iran's expanding influence ahead of a planned departure of U.S. forces from Iraq. The Sunni-led monarchies of the Gulf have also accused Tehran of encouraging Shiite-led uprisings in Bahrain and other Gulf states.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Photos: Iconic images from the war in Iraq

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  1. Smoke billows from the Iraqi planning ministry in Baghdad after it was hit with a missile during the start of the Iraq War on March 20, 2003. (Olivier Coret / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Victim of crossfire

    A U.S. Marine doctor holds an Iraqi girl in central Iraq on March 29, 2003. A crossfire on the front lines ripped apart an Iraqi family after local soldiers appeared to force civilians toward Marine positions. (Damir Sagolj / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Letters from home

    U.S. Army Spc. Lucas Edwards smells the perfume on mail sent from his wife, Stephanie, in the desert near Karbala in central Iraq on March 29, 2003. (John Moore / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Rescue of Jessica Lynch

    An image from video shown during a news conference on April 2, 2003, at the Central Command Center in Doha, Qatar, shows the rescue of U.S. soldier Jessica Lynch on April 1 in Iraq. (U.S. Central Command / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Moving into Baghdad

    U.S. Marines from the 3rd Battalion urge infantrymen to rush across the damaged Baghdad Highway Bridge on April 7, 2003. They were moving forward under fire in the southeastern outskirts of Baghdad. (Kuni Takahashi / Boston Herald via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. In Saddam's palace

    U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Chad Touchett, center, relaxes with comrades from A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, on April 7, 2003, after searching one of Saddam Hussein's palaces damaged by bombs in Baghdad. (John Moore / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Symbolic fall

    A statue of Saddam Hussein falls in central Baghdad on April 9, 2003. Iraqis earlier took a sledgehammer to the marble plinth under the statue. Youths had placed a noose around the statue's neck and attached the rope to a U.S. armored vehicle to pull it down. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Tragic homecoming

    Family members mourn the death of three male relatives in Baghdad on April 10, 2003. A father, his teenage son and another male relative were shot to death by U.S. Marines the night before after the car they were driving allegedly did not stop while passing a building occupied by the Marines. The victims' relatives were waiting for their return and did not know about the incident until relatives towed the car, containing the three bodies, to the family's home. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Mourning a fallen comrade

    Staff Sgt. Lonnie Roberts cries at a memorial service April 16, 2003, in Baghdad for Pvt. Gregory R. Huxley Jr., 19, of Forest Port, N.Y., who was killed April 6 when the armored personnel carrier he was riding in was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Huxley had finished basic training just five months earlier. Roberts was the squad leader and also was riding in the carrier. (David Leeson / Dallas Morning News via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Mission accomplished

    President George W. Bush addresses the nation aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as it sails for San Diego, Calif., on May 1, 2003. Bush declared major fighting over in Iraq. (Stephen Jaffe / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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    Horror in Fallujah

    Iraqis chant anti-American slogans as charred bodies hang from a bridge over the Euphrates River in Fallujah, west of Baghdad on March 31 2004. Enraged Iraqis killed four contractors, took the charred bodies from a burning SUV, dragged them through the streets and hung them from the bridge. (Khalid Mohammed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Coming home

    The flag-draped coffins of U.S. soldiers are carefully strapped down and checked before being returned to the United States aboard military aircraft on May 1, 2003. This image caused controversy because it was photographed when journalists were barred from witnessing the return of the fallen to Dover Air Base. The images were taken by Tami Silicio, a worker for a military contractor in Kuwait. She and her husband were fired. (Tami Silicio / ZUMA Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Saying goodbye

    Kraig Bowen gives a last-minute hug to his children Katelyn and Kaleb before he left for Fort Hood, Texas, with the rest of the 199th Support Battalion of the Louisiana National Guard's 256th Infantry Enhanced Separate Brigade on April 29, 2004, in St. Martinville, La. After training in Texas, the Guard members headed to Iraq. (John Rowland / The Daily Advertiser via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Abu Ghraib controversy

    A naked detainee at the Abu Ghraib prison is tethered by a leash held by a prison guard Army Pvt. Lynndie England in these undated photos. These photos were released May 6, 2004. The images caused a worldwide outcry at the treatment of the prisoners by the U.S. military. (The Washington Post) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Offering comfort

    A U.S. Army soldier comforts a child fatally wounded in a suicide car bomb blast in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, on May 2, 2005. (Michael Yon / US Army viaAP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Civil war rages

    One of the two daughters of Jalil Shaalan, a security guard at a school, reacts after her father was gunned down in front of them outside of the school compound by unknown gunmen in the Amarayah district of Baghdad on July 21, 2005. (Hadi Mizban / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Saying goodbye

    Cyndi Quinton, wife of Army Spc. Bryan Quinton, 24, cries during her husband's graveside service at Green Hill Cemetery in Sapulpa, Okla., on May 17, 2006. Quinton and another soldier were killed May 4 when a roadside bomb went off near their military vehicle in Baghdad. (Brandi Simons / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Memorial Day tribute

    Mary McHugh mourns her fiance, Sgt. James Regan, at "Section 60" of Arlington National Cemetery on May 27, 2007. Regan, a Special Forces soldier, was killed by a bomb explosion in Iraq that February. This was the first time that McHugh had visited the grave since the funeral. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. First deployment

    Pfc. Pete Morris, holding his 4-month-old daughter, Gabrielle, sits next to his wife, Erin Morris, on Jan. 16, 2007, at Fort Stewart, Ga., while waiting for his brigade to deploy to Iraq for a year. This was Morris's first deployment, but for many of the soldiers of his brigade it was the third tour of duty in Iraq since the division led the push into Baghdad in 2003. (Stephen Morton / World Picture News) Back to slideshow navigation
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