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U.S., Iraqi Forces Control Samarra

Iraqi officials have said that, in order to allow orderly elections to take place across Iraq in January, the offensive for Samarra would be repeated in at least three other urban battlegrounds held by insurgents. Each saw violence this weekend.

In Ramadi, capital of the vast Anbar province 60 miles west of Baghdad, an explosion ripped through a newly renovated building that "was to be a symbolic centerpiece" of the city's renewal, a U.S. military statement said. A Marine patrol shot and killed a man who apparently set off the charge in the Ramadi Agricultural Center on Friday.


An Iraqi faces a soldier with a white flag in Samarra. Residents said insurgents scattered. (Jim Macmillan -- AP)

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In Fallujah, 35 miles west of the capital, U.S. combat aircraft on Saturday bombed a building that officials said housed foreign fighters and local insurgents who have controlled the city since April. Intelligence reports said 10 to 15 men were conducting military training in the building, which is on the outskirts of the city, the U.S. military said.

The strike killed five foreign fighters -- four Saudis and a Syrian -- residents said. The concussion also brought down the roof of a house next door, killing four women and a teenage boy, residents said.

Residents also said an airstrike late Friday killed six members of a family and two overnight guests. Neighbors said the head of the household, Hamad Hdaib Mohammedi, was well known for his opposition to the insurgents. Television footage showed the dust-covered body of a small girl being pulled from the rubble of Mohammedi's home.

Fifteen minutes after the strike, U.S. aircraft dropped leaflets calling on residents to eject foreign fighters and join the political process. The fliers offered $65 million in development projects but warned that the money would go to other cities if the population did not act soon.

In Sadr City, also a rebel stronghold, clashes between 1st Cavalry Division patrols and the Mahdi Army militia of Moqtada Sadr, a rebellious Shiite cleric, continued Saturday. U.S. forces ventured into most areas of the Baghdad slum only inside tanks or other heavily armored vehicles. The military said two soldiers were wounded when a roadside bomb detonated beside their armored personnel carrier.

[Elsewhere, according to the Associated Press, the bodies of a woman shot in the head and a man, his with a severed head, were brought to the hospital in Mahmoudiyah, 25 miles south of Baghdad, early Sunday, police said. Police Lt. Hussein Rizouqi said the bodies looked like those of Westerners but no identification was found on the corpses which were discovered in the area of Youssifiyah, 12 miles south of Baghdad.]

A Marine was wounded Saturday morning when a suicide bomber detonated explosives beside a U.S. convoy east of Fallujah. Two soldiers in an Army convoy outside the northern city of Mosul were wounded in a similar attack, the military said.

In Baghdad, a U.S. soldier was reported killed late Friday by small arms fire, bringing the number of death of American personnel in Iraq to 1,060.

A video posted on an Internet site showed the beheading of an Iraqi man and displayed a pass granting him access to a U.S. base. The extremist Ansar al-Sunna Army said in a statement that the man, Barie Nafie Dawoud Ibrahim, was killed for being "one of the biggest contractors" working with the Americans.

The al-Jazeera satellite television network broadcast footage of 10 hostages seized several days ago by another group, the Islamic Army in Iraq. The group has demanded that Indonesia release Abubakar Baasyir, a radical Muslim cleric facing trial on charges of being the spiritual head of Jemaah Islamiah, a regional group operating in Southeast Asia that is linked to al Qaeda. Two of the hostages are Indonesian.

Baasyir rejected the demand in a recording smuggled out of prison in Indonesia to the Associated Press.

"I cannot justify this kidnapping," he said. "I demand that they be freed as Islam does not condone taking hostages of Muslim sisters and brothers. If the captors are Muslim, they truly do not understand Islam."

Special correspondent Bassam Sebti contributed to this report.


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