Three U.S. Soldiers Die In Anbar Province

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Three American soldiers have been killed in combat operations in the western province of Anbar, the U.S. military said Friday.

The military statement says only that the three died while conducting combat operations in Anbar Province on Thursday, reports CBS News correspondent Cami McCormick. Earlier this week in Ramadi, also in Anbar, U.S. forces came under attack from insurgents and a lengthy gun battle followed. Warplanes were brought in to target several buildings there.

The U.S. military also said it was investigating reports of civilian casualties in fighting in Ramadi, the volatile capital of Anbar province.

Meanwhile, a suspected al Qaeda-linked insurgent leader accused of financing attacks and recruiting fighters was captured in southern Iraq, Iraqi police said Friday.

In other developments:

  • U.S. troops arrested the son of Iraq's top Shiite politician Friday as he returned to the country from Iran, Shiite officials said. There was no word on why Amar al-Hakim, son of political leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, was taken into custody, but U.S. authorities have complained in the past about Iranian weapons sales and financial aid to major Shiite parties in Iraq. Al-Hakim was released 12 hours later. The U.S. ambassador apologized for the arrest.

  • McCormick reports from Diyala Province that U.S. and Iraqi forces are facing increasing attacks in what she describes as one of the most dangerous places in Iraq, while the military focus remains on the Baghdad security crackdown.

  • Vice President Dick Cheney refused Friday to take back his charge that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's opposition to President Bush's Iraq war buildup is playing into the hands of al Qaeda. "If you're going to advocate a course of action that basically is withdrawal of our forces from Iraq, then you don't get to just do the fun part of that, that says, 'We'll, we're going to get out,' and appeal to your constituents on that basis," Cheney said.

  • A U.S. soldier who fought in Iraq has been sentenced to 100 years in prison for the gang rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and killing of her family. reports Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, 24, wept but said he couldn't explain why he did it.

  • Sunni Arab clerics on Friday demanded justice for two women who claim they were sexually assaulted by the Shiite-dominated security forces, and several insurgent groups called for revenge attacks. Sheik Sameer al-Obeidi charged that the allegations showed that "gross human rights violations" were marring a major security sweep in Baghdad.

    Issa Abdul-Razzaq Ahmed, the suspected al Qaeda leader, who was detained during a raid Thursday on a house in central Basra, has been traveling to neighboring countries to collect funds for militant operations in Iraq, provincial police commander Gen. Mohammed al-Moussawi said.

    He also said the suspect, a 22-year-old Sunni, was on the Interior Ministry's most-wanted list and was accused of being a major figure in recruiting fighters. Police also found lists with the names of other wanted militants, maps and propaganda CDs.

    "Working under the guise of a businessman, he has been shuttling between Syria and the United Arab Emirates to collect funds for the terrorists in Iraq," al-Moussawi said.

    The announcement of the capture took on added significance, coming just days after Britain said it would withdraw 1,600 troops from the area in the coming months with hopes the Iraqis can take over their own security.

    Basra, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, and the region around it are predominantly Shiite and have seen little of the sectarian violence that has beset the capital, although rival Shiite militant factions often clash and Sunni insurgents maintain a presence.
    • Stephen Smith

      Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

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