U.S. forces discover 13 more bodies in northern Mosul; two U.S. Marines killed in Fallujah ambush

Thursday, November 25th 2004, 4:35 pm
By: News On 6

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ U.S. forces found 13 more bodies in and around the northern city of Mosul, the military said Friday, bringing to 35 the number of corpses discovered in the past week in the area shaken by an insurgent uprising.

In Fallujah, insurgents ambushed U.S. troops as they entered a home during house-to-house searches in the former rebel bastion, killing two Marines and wounding three others, the U.S. military said Friday.

Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said the Marines responded with gunfire, killing three rebels hiding inside.

U.S. troops have continued clearing operations in Fallujah, which came under a massive week-long U.S.-led assault that began Nov. 8. Sattler said about 50 percent of the houses in the city have already been cleared.

``We will continue to clear out houses till every one is secure. We've taken more and more of their safehouses. They're running out of places to hide,'' he said.

Sattler vowed that the city 40 miles west of Baghdad will be safe in time for next January's nationwide elections.

Also Friday, Navy Secretary Gordon R. England warned of more violence in Iraq ahead of the country's nationwide elections but said that U.S. and Iraqi forces will prevail in securing the vote.

``There will be efforts to disrupt the elections,'' England said on a visit to Marines at a camp outside Fallujah. ``The insurgents don't want the elections to be held and certainly not that they be successful. But we will prevail. We will provide the necessary stability.''

In Mosul, the U.S. military said that 11 of the 35 bodies found have been identified as members of the Iraqi security forces, who have been targeted by insurgents. The others have not been identified.

U.S. forces patrolling Mosul and nearby Tal Afar on Thursday morning found nine bodies on the western side of Mosul, said Lt. Col. Paul Hastings, a spokesman with Task Force Olympia. Two more bodies were found in the city later in the day.

``It's a continued campaign of threats, intimidation and murder by insurgents to spread fear into the public. Their campaign has been directed at what appears to be Iraqi security forces,'' said Lt. Col. Paul Hastings, a spokesman with Task Force Olympia.

In Tal Afar, one Iraqi National Guard soldier was found dead while a second body discovered in a different location was unidentified.

The military late Thursday had reported the discovery of another two bullet-riddled bodies in western Mosul. U.S. and Iraqi troops were hit by mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire as they were retrieving the bodies, according to Lt. Col. Eric Kurilla of the Army's 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment.

The U.S. military spotted at least one team of insurgents firing at them. One Iraqi National Guardsman suffered minor injuries, according to Kurilla.

Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, was the site of a mass insurgent uprising in apparent support of Fallujah guerrillas following the U.S.-led assault. In the wake of the mass attacks, U.S. and Iraqi forces were sent in to retake parts of the city but insurgents have managed to hit back.

Twenty other bodies have been found in Mosul since last Thursday. At least 10 of the bodies _ nine of them shot execution-style _ belonged to the Iraqi regular army, based at the al-Kisik military base about 31 miles west of Mosul, near Tal Afar. Four of the bodies found were decapitated.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces arrested four insurgents who said they were planning attacks against coalition bases and police stations in the southern city of Basra, officials said Friday, a day after a joint British-Iraqi operation netted three dozen men in the area.

Iraqi National Guardsmen arrested the four after a brief gunfight at the Al-Yarmouk Hotel. Three of the men came from Fallujah and the fourth from Samarra, according to an Iraqi National Guard official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The four men told Iraqi officials they were planning a series of attacks in southern Basra, which is the headquarters for some 8,500 British troops, in an attempt to relieve the U.S. military pressure on Fallujah.

One of the insurgents was injured during the gunfight and weapons were found in their hotel room, the Iraqi official said.

The arrests followed a larger operation Thursday where Iraqi National Guards and police commandos, backed by coalition forces, raided several locations in the town of Zubayr, just west of Basra, said British spokesman Maj. Charlie Mayo.

About 60 British soldiers and 30 Danish soldiers maintained perimeter security as another 60 Iraqi National Guards and police swept through several buildings in Zubayr.

A total of 36 people were detained, all of them from outside the Basra area, along with quantities of weapons, ammunition and drugs, he said.

Iraqi officials said the group included Iraqis, Afghans, and other Arab foreign fighters, though there was no breakdown.

Basra Police Chief Brig. Mohammed Khazim said the raids over the past two days arose out of information revealed by five Arab foreign fighters arrested Wednesday night at a checkpoint in Qurnah, about 37 miles north of Basra. Two were from Saudia Arabia, two from Tunisia and one was from Libya.

Near the northern city of Kirkuk, gunmen attacked a police station, killing one policeman and injuring three, police said Friday.

Insurgents used machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades in their assault on a police station in Rashad, 30 miles southwest of Kirkuk Thursday night, according to police Brig. Sarhat Qadir.