Iraq's acting defense minister escaped unharmed Tuesday after a roadside bomb went off as his convoy was passing through the western province of Al Anbar, a police source told Efe.

Two of Saadoun al-Dulaimi's bodyguards were wounded in the blast, which took place near Fallujah, a city that was once a bastion for insurgents.

The Iraqi military decided to temporarily suspend ground operations in Al Anbar in favor of launching airstrikes on terrorist redoubts identified with help from U.S. forces deployed in the Persian Gulf, a security source Sumeriya television.

The change in tactics came three days after the commander of the Iraqi army's 7th Division, Mohammed al Karawi, was killed in Al Anbar along with 14 other officers and troops.

A recent rise in sectarian violence and terrorist attacks in Iraq left 948 people - mostly civilians - dead in November, according to the government. EFE