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US, Iraqi Troops Clash with Shi'ite Militia in Karbala, 17 Killed

By VOA News

The U.S. military in Iraq says about 17 Shi'ite militiamen have been killed in battles with U.S. and Iraqi troops in the southern city of Karbala.

A military statement says the fighting broke out Friday after U.S. and Iraqi forces arrested a rogue leader of the Mahdi Army militia loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The statement says five insurgents died in a gunbattle, and an airstrike killed about 12 more.

Elsewhere, the U.S. military says coalition forces captured four suspected terrorists in a pre-dawn operation in Diyala province. The military says the suspects are believed to be involved in smuggling Iranian weapons into Iraq.

The military says American and Iraqi forces detained another Mahdi Army militia leader in a Baghdad neighborhood, Thursday.

The U.S. military also announced the death of an American soldier from wounds suffered Thursday during operations in Diyala.

In Jordan Thursday, a top Iraqi official urged the international community to help countries that are hosting hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees. The official, the secretary-general of Iraq's Foreign Ministry, Mohammed al-Haji Hmoud, spoke at an international conference on the Iraqi refugee crisis.

The United Nations estimates that some 750,000 Iraqi refugees have fled to Jordan, while nearly 1.5 million Iraqis have fled to Syria in recent years. Amman says hosting the Iraqis in Jordan has cost the country about $1 billion a year.

... Payvand News - 7/27/07 ... --

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