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Deadly Week For U.S. Troops In Iraq

It's been a particularly deadly week for U.S. forces in Iraq, with the military announcing three more deaths on Saturday.

A bomb killed a U.S. soldier on a foot patrol Saturday south of Baghdad, the military said, after a particularly deadly week for U.S. forces in Iraq.

The soldier with the Multi-National Division in Baghdad died at about 7:20 a.m. Saturday due to injuries "suffered from a bomb explosion while on a dismounted patrol south of Baghdad," the military said.

The military also announced the deaths of two other soldiers from the same division Friday.

One soldier was killed in a roadside bomb about 2:45 a.m. Friday in the capital, according to a statement. The attack occurred hours before clashes broke out on a volatile street near the heavily guarded Green Zone, prompting the Iraqi government to impose a curfew.

Another soldier from the same division died in a "non-combat incident" at about 5 p.m. Friday, the military said, adding the incident was under investigation.

The names of the soldiers were not released pending notification of next of kin.

Fifteen U.S. servicemembers have died or been found dead in Iraq this week.

At least 2,520 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

In other recent developments:
  • Democrats are blaming the Bush administration's Iraq policy for turning U.S. soldiers into targets for Iraq's insurgency. In the party's weekly radio address, Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said the Republican plan to "stay the course" is not an option. Dean repeated the Democratic call for a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces, but he rejected Republican criticism that Democrats want to "cut and run."
  • Baghdad was relatively calm a day after clashes in the city center forced the prime minister to impose a curfew on the 6 million residents, although sporadic violence was reported. Three armed members of the Mahdi army militia of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr were killed while battling U.S. forces in eastern Baghdad, Dr. Muhannad Jwad of Yarmouk hospital said.
  • The prime minister's office confirmed that the government will present a 28-point national reconciliation plan to parliament Sunday that would grant some insurgents amnesty and ask for approval of a series of steps for Iraqis to take over security from U.S. troops. Deputy parliamentary speaker Khalid al-Atiyah said government representatives and lawmakers were meeting on the plan.
  • A funeral procession was held in the Shiite slum of Sadr City for two men who were killed Friday while marching with other Shiites to the Buratha mosque on the other side of the city to protest a suicide attack a week ago on the revered Shiite shrine.
  • Two Pennsylvania National Guardsmen are being investigated in connection with the shooting death of an Iraqi civilian earlier this year and have not returned to the U.S. with the rest of their unit, a Guard spokesman said Friday.
  • The United States' commanding general in Iraq says Iran has joined the war. Gen. George Casey said Iranians are planting roadside bombs that are killing U.S. soldiers, reports CBS News correspondent Lee Cowan. "We are quite confident that the Iranians through their covert special ops forces are providing weapons, IED technology and training to Shia extremist groups in Iraq," Casey said.
    U.S. troops detained a top Sunni religious leader for several hours Saturday in Tikrit, an influential Sunni group said.

    The Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars said Jamal al-Din Abdul Karim al-Dabban was taken into custody along with three of his sons at about 5 a.m. in Tikrit, the hometown of deposed President Saddam Hussein.

    The cleric, who is a mufti, or a religious authority for Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, was released about seven hours later after protests, Tikrit's Gov. Hamad Humoud al-Qaisi said.

    The U.S. military said it was looking into the incident.

    Hundreds of people responded to calls over mosque loudspeakers to gather in front of the governor's office to protest the detention, said Sheikh Yahya Ibrahim al-Atwani, deputy head of the association in Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad.

    The Iraqi Islamic party, the country's largest Sunni political group, also condemned the arrest of the "Mufti of Iraq" and demanded his immediate release.

    "The Sheik represents an Islamic and National symbolic and these violations could cause the security situation to deteriorate," the statement added.

    Disaffected Sunni Arabs, who were dominant under Saddam but lost power to majority Shiites after his ouster, are the driving force behind Iraq's unrelenting insurgency.

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