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This story has picked up a lot of steam since this monring....and in keeping with the MSM's anti-American tone of covering stories...
Al-Zarqawi May Be Among Dead in Iraq Fight
By ROBERT H. REID
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S. forces sealed off a house in the northern city of Mosul where eight suspected al-Qaida members died in a gunfight _ some by their own hand to avoid capture. A U.S. official said Sunday that efforts were under way to determine if terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was among the dead.
Insurgents, meanwhile, killed an American soldier and a Marine in separate attacks over the weekend, while a British soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in the south.
In Washington, a U.S. official said the identities of the terror suspects killed was unknown. Asked if they could include al-Zarqawi, the official replied: "There are efforts under way to determine if he was killed."
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.
American soldiers maintained control of the site, imposing extraordinary security measures, a day after a fierce gunbattle that broke out when Iraqi police and U.S. soldiers surrounded a house after reports that al-Qaida in Iraq members were inside.
Three insurgents detonated explosives and killed themselves to avoid capture, Iraqi officials said. Eleven Americans were wounded, the U.S. military said.
The U.S. soldier killed Sunday near the capital was assigned to the Army's Task Force Baghdad and was hit by small arms fire, the military said. The Marine, assigned to Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division, died of wounds suffered the day before in Karmah, a village outside Fallujah to the west of the capital.
Their deaths brought to at least 2,093 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
In the southern city of Basra, a roadside bomb killed a British soldier and wounded four others, the British Ministry of Defense said. The ministry said 98 British soldiers have died in the Iraq conflict.
The U.S. military also said Sunday that 24 people _ including another American Marine and 15 civilians _ were killed the day before in an ambush on a joint U.S. Iraqi patrol in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad in the volatile Euphrates River valley.
According to the U.S. statement, the attack began Saturday with a roadside bomb detonating next to the Marine's vehicle, followed by a heavy volley of fire from insurgents.
"Iraqi army soldiers and Marines returned fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding another," the statement said.
Meanwhile, four women were killed Sunday night when gunmen stormed their home in a Christian district of eastern Baghdad, police said, adding that valuables were stolen and the motive for the attack appeared to have been robbery.
The latest deaths occurred at the end of a violent three-day period in which at least 140 Iraqi civilians died in a series of bombings and suicide attacks _ most targeting Shiite Muslims.
The victims included 76 people who died Friday in near-simultaneous suicide bombings at two Shiite mosques in Khanaqin and 36 more killed the next day by a suicide car bomber who detonated his vehicle amid mourners at a Shiite funeral north of the capital.
In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that commanders' assessments will determine the pace of any military drawdown. About 160,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq as the country approaches parliamentary elections Dec. 15.
The Pentagon has said it plans to scale back troop strength to its pre-election baseline of 138,000, depending on conditions. Rumsfeld said the U.S.-led coalition continues to make progress in training Iraqi security forces, which he placed at 212,000.
Rumsfeld also said talk in the United States of a quick withdrawal from Iraq plays into the hands of the insurgents.
"The enemy hears a big debate in the United States, and they have to wonder maybe all we have to do is wait and we'll win. We can't win militarily. They know that. The battle is here in the United States," he told "Fox News Sunday."
In Cairo, Egypt, Iraq's president said Sunday he was ready for talks with anti-government opposition figures and members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party, and he called on the Sunni-led insurgency to lay down its arms and join the political process.
But President Jalal Talabani, attending an Arab League-sponsored reconciliation conference, insisted that the Iraqi government would not meet with Baath Party members who are participating in the Sunni-led insurgency and attacking Iraqi and U.S.-led forces in the country.
"I am the president of Iraq and I am responsible for all Iraqis. If those who describe themselves as Iraqi resistance want to contact me, they are welcome," Talabani told reporters. "I want to listen to all Iraqis. I am committed to listen to them, even those who are criminals and are on trial."
Talabani made clear in his remarks, however, that he would talk with insurgents and "criminals" only if they put down their weapons.
In Baghdad, hundreds of Sunnis demanded an end to the torture of detainees and called for the international community to pressure Iraqi and U.S. authorities to ensure that such abuse does not occur.
Anger over detainee abuse has increased sharply since U.S. troops found 173 detainees at an Interior Ministry prison in Baghdad's Jadriyah neighborhood. The detainees, mainly Sunnis, were found malnourished and some had torture marks on their bodies. Sunni Arabs dominate the insurgent ranks.
The 400 protesters carried posters of tortured detainees, disfigured dead bodies and U.S. troops detaining Iraqis as they marched for a few hundred meters (yards) through western Baghdad.
Iraq's Shiite-led government has promised an investigation and punishment for anyone guilty of torture. Attacks against Shiite civilians by Sunni religious extremists have occurred throughout the Iraq conflict but spiked since the detainees were found last weekend.
Last edited by Come Back to NY; 11-20-2005 at 04:36 PM.