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Heavy Insurgent Toll in Iraq

Tuesday Raid on Camp Said to Kill 85, Highest Since Fallujah

By Caryle Murphy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 24, 2005; Page A15

BAGHDAD, March 23 -- An Iraqi official said Wednesday that 85 insurgents were killed on Tuesday when Iraqi commandos, assisted by U.S. air and ground support, staged a midday attack on a suspected training camp in a rural area northwest of the capital.

The guerrilla death toll was the largest in any battle since the Marines led an assault on the insurgent-held city of Fallujah in November, when more than 1,000 fighters were reported killed.

Sgt. 1st Class Marshall P. Ware of the Army posed with a cache of weapons recovered after the military quelled an insurgent attack on a supply convoy Sunday. (Spec. Casey Cooper -- U.s. Army Via AP)

Iraq War Deaths

Total number of U.S. military deaths and names of the U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war as announced by the Pentagon yesterday:

1,519 Fatalities

In hostile actions: 1,163

In non-hostile actions: 356

Spec. Francisco G. Martinez, 20, of Fort Worth; 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, based at Camp Hovey, South Korea. Killed March 20 in Tamin.

Lance Cpl. Kevin S. Smith, 20, of Springfield, Ohio.; 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Killed March 21 in Anbar province.

All troops were killed in action unless otherwise indicated.

Total fatalities include four civilian employees of the Defense Department.

A full list of casualties is available online at www.washingtonpost.com/nation

SOURCE: Defense Department's www.defenselink.mil/news The Washington Post

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Seven Iraqi special police officers were killed and five were injured in Tuesday's attack on the camp, located near Tharthar Lake in the Sunni Triangle, Sabah Kadhim, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said in an interview.

"It was cleverly hidden in the middle of swamps," Kadhim said of the camp, adding that the insurgents had used boats to transfer supplies to the site.

The special police, formally known as 1st Police Commando Battalion, are attached to the Interior Ministry.

The clash was the latest in a series of firefights involving large numbers of fighters.

On Sunday, U.S. forces killed 26 insurgents in a fight that broke out when 40 to 50 insurgents, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms, ambushed a U.S. military-escorted convoy of civilian trucks driven by Iraqis on the southern outskirts of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. Six U.S. soldiers were wounded.

In Tuesday's attack on the suspected training site, Iraqi forces were assisted by elements of Task Force Liberty, a U.S. combined force consisting of units from the Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division, along with the 116th Brigade Combat Team, the 278th Regimental Combat Team and the 1st and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.

"An early assessment of the site indicates a facility for training Anti-Iraqi Forces," a statement from the 42nd Infantry Division said, using the U.S. military's term for insurgents. The statement said evidence recovered at the scene indicated that some of the fighters were foreigners.

Kadhim told the Reuters news agency that "among the dead are Arab and foreign fighters, including Sudanese, Algerians and Moroccans, as well as other nationalities."

Maj. Richard L. Goldenberg, public affairs officer for the 42nd Infantry Division, wrote in an e-mail that the camp had tents and appeared to be temporary.

Among the items found there, Goldenberg added, were two light machine guns, a rocket-propelled grenade with a launcher, a homemade bomb, a shotgun, a suicide vest, a portable generator and mixed ammunition.

Goldenberg said the insurgents had "already posted on various Internet sites their own claim of 11 casualties at the site." It was unusual, he added, to see an admission of such losses.

According to Reuters, a radical group called the Islamic Army of Tikrit distributed leaflets saying that 11 militants had been killed but that many more police commandos had also lost their lives.

Special correspondent Salih Saif Aldin in Tikrit contributed to this report.

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