Al-Nassiriyah, Iraq; 6 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. troops battled insurgents as they approached the city of Al-Fallujah today, while coalition forces were reportedly involved in clashes in several other Iraqi cities.
There are few details about the fighting in Al-Fallujah, west of Baghdad. But the U.S. military has vowed to pacify the Sunni stronghold since four American civilians were killed and their bodies mutilated by Iraqis on 31 March.
A brief U.S. military statement issued today says four U.S. Marines were killed yesterday in western Anbar Province, where Al-Fallujah is located.
The U.S. military also reports three U.S. soldiers were killed in northern Baghdad in three separate incidents yesterday and today. The statement came after reports of clashes late yesterday and early today with coalition troops in at least one Sunni district and two Shi'ite neighborhoods in the capital.
In the southern city of Al-Nassiriyah, there are reports that two Iraqis were killed and several Italian soldiers injured in clashes with followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shi'ite Muslim cleric who has strongly criticized the U.S. coalition.
The violence comes as the U.S.-led coalition has issued a warrant for the arrest of al-Sadr in connection with the murder of a rival cleric last year.