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U.S., Iraqi Forces Launch Northern Offensive --> 4 September 2004 -- U.S. and Iraqi troops today launched an offensive in northern Iraq against suspected militants, killing at least two insurgents.

The U.S. military said in a statement that air strikes were called in amid heavy fighting and a bomb was dropped near Tall Afar, some 50 kilometers west of the northern city of Mosul.

It said U.S. soldiers killed two militants after coming under attack while guarding a helicopter force to make an emergency landing.

Unconfirmed reports said a total of eight insurgents were killed in the fighting.

In Baghdad, the military said insurgents fired mortar bombs at a fortified compound where members of Iraq's interim national assembly were gathering today. One civilian was reported wounded.

Also today, reports said saboteurs blew up an oil pipeline near the main southern Iraqi city of Al-Basrah.

Meanwhile, there was no word from the captors of two French journalists despite French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin saying he was cautiously optimistic about the prospects of their release.

(compiled from agency reports)