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Baghdad, 12 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- An informal cease-fire between Sunni Muslim insurgents and U.S. Marines held overnight in the besieged city of Al-Fallujah west of Iraq's capital Baghdad.
Thousands of people used the lull in fighting to flee the city.
The U.S. military today said three U.S. Marines were killed in fighting in an unspecified area west of Baghdad yesterday, in addition to 12 U.S. soldiers killed in fighting on 9-10 April.
More than 60 U.S. soldiers have died since a crackdown began one week ago in response to the killing and mutilation of four U.S. private security guards in the city.
A local hospital official told the AP news agency that more than 600 Iraqis have died in the recent fighting.
U.S. President George W. Bush said yesterday that it had been a "tough week" in Iraq.
"My prayers and thoughts are with those who paid the ultimate price for our security. A free Iraq will make the world more peaceful. A free Iraq is going to change the world. And it has been tough," Bush said.
Loud explosions were reported this morning coming from the U.S. headquarters in Baghdad, where there has been frequent mortar and rocket attacks as well as controlled explosions of ordinance.