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Two Marines Killed In Anbar Firefights

Two U.S. Marines were killed during fighting in Anbar province, the military said Saturday.

One Marine died Saturday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Anbar province, a Sunni insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, the military said. The other died Thursday, according to a separate statement.

Both were assigned to the Regimental Combat Team 5, but were not otherwise identified, pending notification of relatives.

In other developments:

  • A suicide car bomb exploded today outside of the Al-Abbas shrine in Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad. The golden dome and minarets of the shrine did not appear to be damaged in video footage shown on Iraqi state TV, but the powerful blast set many parked cars on fire in a nearby street, and two Iraqi men with bloody faces could be seen running through heavy black smoke past the body of another victim of the attack.

    Rahman Meshawi, the city's police spokesman, said five Iraqis were killed and 44 wounded, 15 of them seriously.

  • U.S. troops raided the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's office early on Saturday. AP Television footage showed overturned and scattered furniture in the office.

    There was no official comment from the U.S. Army. Followers of the Shiite cleric later gathered outside the targeted office to protest.

  • Politicians from Anbar province, an insurgent stronghold, met with the U.S. ambassador on Saturday and said they demanded that American forces reduce their attacks on Iraqi civilians and that Iraqi forces stop insurgents entering their region from neighboring countries.

    But the officials from Anbar Provincial Council, home to hard-hit cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi, also praised the U.S.-led coalition for its 200 projects aimed at improving the mostly Sunni Arab region's crumbling infrastructure and urged the foreign media to spend more time covering such efforts in their reports about the Iraq war.

    "The people of Anbar want to know why they are suffering from daily shellings and killings by U.S. forces, so we asked American Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to deliver that message to President George W. Bush and his government," said Abdul-Salam Abdullah, the chairman of the Anbar Provincial Council.

    "The situation is very complicated in our province, but we demanded that the U.S. Air Force stop firing at civilian areas," Abdullah said at a news conference after he and other politicians met with Khalilzad in the Green Zone, the heavily fortified area of central Baghdad where Iraq's government and the U.S. and British embassies are based.

    U.S. Marines engaging in battles with insurgents in Anbar Province often call for support from the U.S. Air Force to bomb houses where militants are hiding.

  • About a thousand residents of the predominantly Sunni village of al-Ishaqi in the volatile province of Salahuddin held a funeral procession for those killed in a U.S. air strike on Friday.

    The US command said Friday's raid and airstrike - targeting al-Qaida militants in Iraq - killed 20 insurgents. But the Association of Muslim Scholars and the Iraqi Islamic Party joined a village mayor who alleged that the attack did not kill insurgents but killed at least 19 civilians, including women and children.

    Chanting "There is no god but Allah. America is the enemy of Allah" angry mourners marched towards the burial ground alongside the bodies of the victims carried in trucks. The mayor of the area said seven women and eight children were among the victims.

    "We are burying 18 people killed by U.S. troops. The U.S. troops shot them dead before they levelled their houses to the ground," said Amir Alwan, Director of Ishaqi District.

    According to a brief written statement, ground forces were searching buildings in an area around Tharthar Lake in Salahuddin province northwest of Baghdad when they returned machine gun fire, killing two insurgents.

  • A nephew of Saddam Hussein serving a life sentence for making bombs for Iraq's insurgency escaped from prison Saturday in northern Iraq, authorities said. Ayman Sabawi, the son of Saddam's half brother Sabawi Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti, fled the prison some 45 miles west of Mosul in
    the afternoon with the help of a police officer, according to local
    police Brig. Abdul Karim al-Jubouri.

    Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf confirmed the escape but declined to elaborate.

    Sabawi was convicted of illegally crossing the border from Syria and sentenced to 15 years in prison late last year by an Iraqi court. He was sentenced to life in prison in an earlier case for possession of illegal weapons and manufacture of explosive devices. He was captured in May 2005 by security forces during a raid on Tikrit, the former leader's hometown. His father, who served as a presidential adviser before the U.S.-led invasion, was captured there two months earlier.

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