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U.S. Troops Bomb Mosque Compound In Al-Fallujah

7 April 2004 -- U.S. Marines in Al-Fallujah, west of Baghdad, fired rockets and dropped at least one 500-pound bomb on a mosque compound after coming under fire from insurgents inside, as U.S. and coalition troops today battled Iraqi insurgents in a fourth day of violence that left casualties on both sides.

The Marines said in a statement there was no damage to the actual mosque, which insurgents had used to fire rocket-propelled grenades and small arms targeting Marines. The statement said one insurgent was killed and that there were no reports of civilian casualties. News agencies had earlier reported that up to 40 people were killed.

The fighting in the Sunni Muslim city of Al-Fallujah comes as coalition forces elsewhere in Iraq were fighting Shi'ite supporters of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Polish troops in Karbala clashed with Shi'a insurgents, leaving several people dead, including an aide to al-Sadr.

In Washingtn, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said despite the escalation of violence, the situation is not out of control in Iraq. Rumsfeld told a Pentagon briefing today that the United States will not let al-Sadr "get away with murder." Al-Sadr has been indicted in connection with the killing of another cleric.

Rumsfeld also warned of danger of violence in Iraqi holy cities in coming days.

A U.S. army commander, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, said coalition operations are intended to destroy the militia loyal to al-Sadr, known as the Imam Al-Mahdi Army. "We will conduct offensive operations. We will attack to destroy the Mahdi Army. Those offensive operations will be deliberate, they'll be precise, and they will be powerful, and they succeed," he said.

Since major fighting broke out on Sunday, at least 30 coalition troops and more than 150 Iraqis have been killed.

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