MOSUL, Iraq – Mosul is the most dangerous city in Iraq, seeing some 15 attacks a day, but residents say they city is returning to normal life and has improved vastly from a year ago, when 45 attacks were recorded daily.
"When we first got here it was a ghost town in terms of traffic. You were unable to drive down it without being attacked," said U.S. Army Col. Michael Bills, commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.
Some neighborhoods are still no-go zones.
One of the main threats on patrol in Mosul comes from something called an S-VBIED — a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. In short, it is a car filled with bombs that tries to kill with a crashing explosion.
But insurgents are now shifting their tactics, and FOX News witnessed a very different kind of attack during a visit to a cheese factory in Mosul. An insurgent hurled a pipe bomb from an apartment building, knocking out a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and setting several cars in the convoy on fire.
"That's one of the newer typical attacks they've developed in the past few months," said Sgt. Robert Owens of the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment. "They like to throw explosive at us and then sometimes, like immediately after that we start our recovery operations and our damage assessments, and then they attack us will small arms when we have dismounts on the ground."
No one was killed in the attack, and the response from Iraqi troops reveals another and more important change.
This time, in a city where Iraqi police were once notorious for fleeing from battle, Iraqi forces were in the front, kicking in doors to find those responsible, while U.S. soldiers stayed back in reserve.
Steve Harrigan currently serves as a Miami-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2001 as a Moscow-based correspondent.