US, Iraqi forces kill 7 in raid on former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, officials say

By Hamid Ahmed, AP
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

7 people die in raid in Iraqi city of Fallujah

BAGHDAD — U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a joint raid in the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah early Wednesday, killing seven people, Iraqi officials said.

President Barack Obama declared the end of combat operations in Iraq on Sept. 1 when the number of American troops fell below 50,000. The remaining soldiers can fire to defend themselves and their bases. Their primary focus is on training Iraqi security forces and taking part in operations hunting insurgents only at the request of the Iraqi government.

Insurgents have intensified their strikes on Iraqi security forces to mark the change in the U.S. mission, and on Wednesday a roadside bomb killed nine Iraqi soldiers near the northern city of Mosul.

The raid in Fallujah, a former bastion of the Sunni-led insurgency located 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, took place around 2 a.m. when Iraqi special forces and American troops cordoned off a neighborhood before raiding several houses, police and hospital officials said. Seven people were killed in the raid.

Police officials said they did not have any information on who the troops were after, but such raids have in the past targeted suspected insurgents or al-Qaida militants.

A security official in the city said the American and Iraqi forces took four of the dead bodies with them and the other three were taken by local police to the morgue.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

A U.S. military press officer, Staff Sgt. Kelli Lane, confirmed there was an Iraqi planned and led joint counter terrorism operation in Fallujah, but did not say what role the American forces played. She referred all other questions to the Iraqi government.

The incident in Fallujah comes on the heels of a battle in Diyala province during which American troops helped Iraqi security forces battle suspected al-Qaida militants for two days. The American military provided drones, attack aircraft, artillery fire and ground forces, including advisers, in what appeared to be the most extensive fighting since the U.S. ended combat operations in Iraq.

In northern Iraq, a roadside bomb struck a bus carrying Iraqi soldiers on vacation, killing nine and injuring five more. Iraqi military and police officials said the blast hit the vehicle Wednesday afternoon on the highway between Mosul and the town of Tal Afar, 260 miles (420 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad.

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