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Iraq: U.S. Military Targets Suspected Insurgents In Al-Fallujah Air Strike


23 July 2004 -- U.S. aircraft on 23 July targeted insurgents in Al-Fallujah suspected of having links with alleged Al-Qaeda operative Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi.

The U.S. military says the strike was conducted in coordination with the interim Iraqi government. The military says it carried out the attack on about a dozen suspects who were in the courtyard of a house in the city. There are no reports of casualties.

Reuters reports the air strike left a large crater in front of the house.

A woman who says she was in the house claims there were only children and other women inside. "We were asleep -- women and children -- when they hit us, and we do not know why. There was nobody with us, only God. This is shrapnel. Can God accept that? Can he accept what [U.S. President George W.] Bush is doing?" the woman said.

Adnan, a doctor at a Al-Fallujah hospital, tells Reuters that some 10 people were wounded in the attack. "In the morning at about 7 o'clock, we received a total of 10 wounded people. Five of them were admitted to the emergency ward, among them two children and a woman. And one of the wounded referred to a neurological hospital in Baghdad," Adnan said.

The air strike by the U.S. military was the seventh in the last several weeks to target safe houses allegedly used by al-Zarqawi's group. Around 40 people have been killed in those attacks.

Elsewhere in Iraq, two U.S. soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Samarra on 22 July, while heavy fighting erupted in Ramadi, another city in the so-called Sunni triangle, on 21 July. The U.S. military says 25 insurgents were killed and another 25 captured in that exchange, while 14 U.S. Marines were injured.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Interior Ministry says Iraqi police on 22 July detained some 200 suspected insurgents in Baghdad. The ministry says large quantities of weapons were seized in the raid.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on 21 July that the insurgents are losing their fight against the new Iraqi government: "They [insurgents] are targeting Iraqis who are cooperating with the new Iraqi government. They are attacking the Iraqi infrastructure. Their new strategy is proving them very visibly to be enemies of the Iraqi people. And they are losing. They are losing because hope is spreading and progress is continuing."

However, the kidnapping of foreigners continues.

A previously unknown group calling itself "The Holders of the Black Banner" this week kidnapped seven foreigners -- three Indians, three Kenyans, and an Egyptian. The group is threatening to behead them unless their employer, a Kuwaiti company, leaves Iraq. The Kenyan government is calling on all its citizens in Iraq to leave immediately.

Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry confirmed on 22 July that a decapitated body found in Iraq last week is that of one of two abducted Bulgarian truck drivers.

Police in the northern city of Baiji say they have found a headless body on the banks of the Tigris River. The corpse was clad in the same type of orange jumpsuit that kidnappers in Iraq have used to dress other foreign captives.
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