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Japan, U.S. Mark Battle Anniversary

Japan and the United States have marked the 70th anniversary of one of the bloodiest and most iconic battles of World War II.

Dozens of U.S. veterans returned to Japan's tiny island of Iwo Jima to attend the March 21 ceremony.

Senior Japanese politicians, U.S. officials, and descendants of the few Japanese who survived the 1945 battle also took part in the event.

Some 22,000 Japanese and almost 7,000 U.S. soldiers died in 35 days of fighting for control of the island, 1,250 kilometers south of Tokyo.

A picture of U.S. troops raising their country's flag on the island's highest point, Mount Suribachi, became a symbol of U.S. victory in the war.

The island, now called Ioto on Japanese maps, was deemed strategically important because it was used by Japanese forces to launch air attacks on American bombers.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa