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U.S., Iraqi Forces Claiming Victory In Samarra

3 October 2004 -- U.S. and Iraqi forces are declaring victory in Samarra after two days of intense fighting to reclaim control over the city from militants.

Speaking to CNN, U.S. Major General John Batiste today described the operation as "successful," and expressed confidence that the future of the city is "good."

Iraqi Defense Minister Hazim Sha'lan al-Khuza'i, also speaking to CNN, said the insurgency in Samarra is "over."

On 1 October, around 3,00 U.S. troops and some 2,000 Iraqi forces, backed by warplanes and artillery, stormed Samarra with the intention of crushing insurgent-held areas.

The U.S. military says it killed 125 guerrillas and captured another 88 during the operation.

Meanwhile, U.S. warplanes overnight bombed Al-Fallujah, another rebel-held city.

Doctors at Al-Fallujah's main hospital said two civilians were killed and 10 injured in the U.S. raid.

Also today, a Turkish-led peacekeeping force stationed in Iraq's northern Kurdish region was officially dissolved.

The Peace Monitoring Force was established seven years ago by Turkey, the United States, and Britain to monitor a cease-fire line after fighting between the two main Kurdish parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

The cease-fire line was in an area of Iraq that had been outside the control of former President Saddam Hussein.

Most of the violence plaguing Iraq ahead of elections scheduled for January has hit areas outside of the Kurdish area in the north.