Gunbattle with U.S. soldiers leaves six dead in Iraq _ including an infant


Tuesday, November 28th 2006, 8:44 am
By: News On 6


BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ U.S. soldiers fought with suspected insurgents using a building as a safe house in Ramadi on Tuesday, killing one Iraqi man and five females, ranging in age from an infant to teenagers, the U.S. military said.

Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, has been the scene of some of Iraq's fiercest fighting between U.S. forces and Sunni insurgents. It is the capital of Anbar province, where many Iraqi insurgents are based.

The bloodshed came on a day that saw sectarian violence kill nine other Iraqis and wound about 50, police said. The bodies of 50 torture victims also were discovered, most of them in Baghdad and the city of Baqouba to the north, police said. Several of the corpses had been dumped at a bus station or outside a government building.

The battle in Ramadi began when a U.S. patrol discovered a roadside bomb in the Hamaniyah section of the city, and two suspected insurgents fled to a house, where they took up positions on the roof, the military said.

As coalition forces removed the bomb, the militants fired on the soldiers, who fought back with machine guns and tanks, the statement said.

Afterward, coalition forces searched the house and found the six bodies, ranging in age from an infant to teenagers, the military said, without providing ages. Another female was wounded but refused treatment, it said.

One of the gunmen may have been wounded and removed from the scene by other militants, the statement said, adding that there were no coalition casualties.

The military quoted residents as saying the building ``was a known anti-Iraqi force safe house.''

Marine Lt. Col. Bryan Salas, a military spokesman, said efforts were under way to ``coordinate and offer available assistance to surviving family members.''

A U.S. Marine died Monday in another area of Anbar province, the military said, raising to at least 2,881 the number of members of the American military who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the United States for the chaos in Iraq, saying the answer to the violence is the withdrawal of foreign forces.

But following Khamenei's comments, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to extend for one year the mandate of the 160,000-strong multinational force in Iraq.

The council acted ahead of a key meeting in Jordan between President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki aimed at halting escalating violence in the country and paving the way for a reduction of American troops.

The Security Council responded to a request from al-Maliki, who said a top government priority is to assume full responsibility for security and stability throughout Iraq but that it needs more time.

The Iraqi Parliament voted to extend the country's state of emergency through December, but the U.S. military warned of even worse sectarian violence after last week's deadly insurgent attack on Shiites in the capital.

Citing the insurgent attack that killed at least 215 people in Baghdad's Sadr City Shiite slum on Thursday, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman, said al-Qaida in Iraq is determined to dominate Baghdad, weaken the Iraqi government and kill as many Shiites as possible to deepen Iraq's sectarian divisions.

``We expect to see elevated levels of violence as a result of this over the next several weeks,'' Caldwell told reporters in the Green Zone, the heavily fortified section of Baghdad where the Iraqi government and the U.S. and British embassies are based.

He also said that while recent polling has indicated a large majority of Iraqis feel more loyalty to their democratically elected government than to their sect, ethnic group or tribe, ``these numbers by themselves do little to counter the violence currently raging on Baghdad's streets.''

The parliamentary vote continues the state of emergency that allows a nighttime curfew and gives the government extra powers to make arrests without warrants and launch police and military operations. The measures, in place everywhere except for the northern autonomous Kurdish region, have been renewed every month since they were first authorized in November 2004.

Meanwhile, videotape footage obtained by AP Television News appears to show the wreckage of a U.S. single-seat F-16CG jet in the farm field where it crashed Monday and the remains of an American serviceman with a tangled parachute nearby.

U.S. forces investigating the crash said insurgents had reached the site before American forces and the pilot is missing. Al-Jazeera satellite television broadcast similar pictures Monday, but declined to show the dead pilot, saying the footage was too graphic to air.

The U.S. Air Force jet crashed about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad while supporting extensive ground combat by coalition forces in Anbar, the Air Combat Command said.