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U.S. Launches Airstrike In Northern Iraq

U.S. soldiers under heavy fire during a raid Monday in northwestern Iraq called in airstrikes and killed five suspected al Qaeda in Iraq militants, the military said.

Meanwhile, a parked car packed with munitions exploded near a passing Iraqi army patrol in eastern Baghdad, killing three civilians and an army lieutenant, police said.

The explosion wounded at least 12 others, and damaged several cars and shops in a busy commercial district of Karrada, an officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media.

The U.S. military said it also detained 13 suspects and destroyed a "foreign terrorist hideout" in two days of operations targeting al Qaeda in Iraq across the country.

American soldiers, acting on intelligence gleaned from Iraqis already in U.S. custody, approached a suspected militant safehouse Monday in a remote area of northwestern Iraq, the military said. Troops immediately came under heavy fire from a fortified enemy position, it said.

When U.S. forces called in airstrikes, "secondary explosions erupted from the target buildings, indicating weapons and bomb materials inside," a military statement said.

Five men were confirmed dead, and multiple suicide vests and heavy machine guns were also discovered in the ruins of their hideout, it said.

An alleged al Qaeda in Iraq bomber was captured with another suspect Monday in Mosul, and another five men were arrested south of the city, the military said.

Mosul is believed to be one of the last urban strongholds of the terror group, and U.S. and Iraqi forces have fought fierce battles with militants there in recent months.

The al Qaeda in Iraq "emir" of Tikrit, a mostly Sunni Arab city north of the Iraqi capital, was arrested late Sunday along with three other suspects, the statement said. Two others were detained in Baghdad.

In other developments:

  • A suicide truck bomber who concealed his explosives under tanned animal hides struck an American patrol base Sunday in northern Iraq, killing one soldier and wounding 20 other people, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. Eighteen of the wounded were American soldiers and two were Iraqi contractors working at the base in Tamim province, according to a brief statement from the military.
  • Iran's supreme leader told the visiting Iraqi prime minister Monday that the U.S. military presence is the main cause of Iraq's problems, according to Iranian state television, making clear his opposition to a U.S.-Iraqi security pact. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's talks with Iranian leaders during his three-day visit here have focused on the proposed security agreement that Iran fears will keep the American military in neighboring Iraq for years.
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