U.S. and Iraqi troops battled foreign fighters near the Syrian border and found the body of Anbar province's missing governor, the highest-ranking Iraqi official kidnapped since the fall of Saddam Hussein, authorities said.
Tuesday's announcement came as the Shiite-dominated parliament reached out to Iraq's disgruntled Sunni Arab minority by offering a role on the committee drafting a new constitution.
But in a development that could affect efforts to get Shiites and Sunnis working together, President Jalal Talabani said Saddam, a Sunni, could be put on trial in the next two months. The former dictator's lawyers said they knew nothing about that.
Foreign extremists are thought to be a small portion of the Sunni-dominated insurgency, although they are blamed for some of the worst bombings and other bloodshed that have killed 765 Iraqis in the month since the new government took power.
Officials said the body of Anbar Gov. Raja Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi was found Sunday after troops engaged in a fierce firefight with foreigners holed up in a house in Rawah, a desert village 175 miles northwest of Baghdad.
In other recent developments:An Iraqi single-engine Comp Air 7SL aircraft crashed Monday near the village of Jalula, about 80 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing the four Americans and the Iraqi pilot, said U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Fred Wellman. The aircraft, one of seven used by the Iraqi air force for surveillance and personnel transport, had been heading for Jalula from a Kirkuk air base, the military said in a statement.The U.N. Security Council extended the mandate of the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq on Tuesday, saying it hopes Iraqi forces will soon be able to play a greater role and ultimately assume responsibility for their country's national security. In a unanimously approved statement, the council deplored the campaign of violence against civilians and Iraqi authorities, and re-emphasized earlier calls to member states to prevent the transit of terrorists into Iraq as well as the flow of arms and money to sustain them.Another U.S. operation in the region ended Monday in nearby Haditha after scouring that town for insurgents and local allies of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.U.S. President George W. Bush offered words of reassurance for Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's government as it pursued an Iraqi military operation to root out extremists in Baghdad. "What you're seeing is a group of frustrated and desperate people who kill innocent life, and we obviously mourn the loss of every life, but I believe the Iraqi government is plenty capable of dealing with them," Bush said.Iraq's insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi made an audio address to Osama bin Laden on Monday to assure the al Qaeda leader that al-Zarqawi was in good health after being wounded in a fire fight with U.S. troops in Iraq. Calling himself a soldier reporting to his commander, al-Zarqawi tells bin Laden he was only slightly injured in recent battle, denying what he called confusing media reports that he had been gravely wounded, reports CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier. There was no way to confirm that the voice was that of Jordanian-born terror leader al-Zarqawi.Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said Tuesday in an interview with CNN that authorities expected to put Saddam Hussein on trial in the next two months. Talabani said that "the court of Iraq will decide the future of Saddam Hussein" and that there was a strong public desire for him to be executed if convicted. CNN said Talabani had said the proceedings would start in the next two months. "Saddam Hussein is a war criminal," Talabani said, noting that he had committed "crimes against Iraqi people" in Kurdistan as well as Shiite areas of southern Iraq and in Baghdad. Noting that he was a lawyer, Talabani said in English that he would have to await the outcome of the trial process "but the Iraqi people from now are starting to ask for executing Saddam Hussein and for sentencing him for death."
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