An al Qaeda front group that claims it has captured American soldiers warned the United States on Monday to stop searching for them.
But a U.S. source close to the search said that could well mean the missing soldiers are still somewhere inside the search zone, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann, and their captors feel the pressure.
The U.S. military also said for the first time it believes the three missing soldiers were abducted by al Qaeda-linked militants after an attack that included three roadside bombs.
"What you are doing in searching for your soldiers will lead to nothing but exhaustion and headaches. Your soldiers are in our hands. If you want their safety, do not look for them," the Islamic State of Iraq said on a militant Web site.
The insurgents suggested they attacked the U.S. convoy as revenge for the rape and murder of a local teenager last year.
"You should remember what you have done to our sister Abeer in the same area," the statement said, referring to five American soldiers who were charged in the rape and killing of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and the killings of her parents and her younger sister last year.
Three soldiers have pleaded guilty in the case — one of the most shocking atrocities committed by U.S. troops in the Iraq war.
Three U.S. soldiers have been missing since Saturday, since a deadly attack on their convoy in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. The attack also killed four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi soldier, according to the military, which had described the Iraqi as an interpreter.
Military sources tell CBS News that all the soldiers were from thee 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, New York. All of the families have been notified of the deaths, and the unknown status of the missing troops.
On Sunday, the Islamic State of Iraq claimed that it had captured U.S soldiers in the deadly attack in the Sunni area, which is known as the "triangle of death" and is an al Qaeda stronghold.
If the claim proves true, it would mark one of the most brazen attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq, a coalition of eight insurgent groups, including al Qaeda in Iraq.
In Other Developments: Five U.S. troops were killed in separate attacks in Baghdad and surrounding areas on Monday, while another soldier died of non-combat related causes, the U.S. military said. The identities of the troops were not released pending notification of relatives. The deaths raised to 3,399 the members of the U.S. military who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.With Iraq's government under growing pressure to show big improvements on all levels... there's bleak news tonight on the energy front, reports CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. A GAO report obtained by CBS News finds "despite four years of effort and the substantial resources expended." The United States and Iran said Sunday they will hold upcoming talks in Baghdad about improving Iraq's security — a historic political turnabout that comes amid a last-ditch U.S. military and diplomatic push to stabilize the country. Gunmen in two cars opened fire on a police checkpoint in the Diyala capital of Baqouba, killing three policemen and two civilians, police said. Two policemen and four civilians were wounded in the 9:30 a.m. attack, which ended when the assailants fled the scene, police said. On Sunday, five civilians were killed execution style on the streets of Baquoba by gunmen who appeared to be accusing them of collaborating with the U.S.-led coalition. The U.S. military has noted an uptick in violence in the volatile region and sent 3,000 additional forces to try to tame the violence. Three mortar rounds hit an outdoor market in Zafaraniyah, a Shiite section of southeast Baghdad, killing three civilians and wounding nine. A car bomb exploded in a parking lot in the mainly Shiite neighborhood of Karradah in central Baghdad, killing three people and wounding two. A parked car bomb exploded near a police patrol in Palestine Street, a commercial area in eastern Baghdad, killing two policemen and a civilian, and wounding three policemen and four civilians.
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