U.S. Identifies Body as Missing Soldier

By John Ward Anderson and Howard Schneider
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, May 24, 2007; 11:14 AM

BAGHDAD, May 24 -- U.S. officials confirmed today that a body pulled from the Euphrates River early Wednesday was that of an American soldier abducted during a deadly ambush south of Baghdad almost two weeks ago, U.S. officials said.

U.S. military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Josslyn Aberle in Baghdad confirmed that the body was that of Pvt. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif.

Elsewhere in Iraq on Thursday, car bomb in Fallujah killed more than 30 people in the midst of a funeral procession held to mourn the death of an anti-al-Qaeda activist.

The subject of a massive manhunt along with two still-missing colleagues, Anzack's body was pulled from the Euphrates by Iraqi police near the town of Musayyib, about 45 miles south of Baghdad and about 20 miles downriver from where the May 12 abduction occurred, according to Capt. Muthana Ahmad, police spokesman in Babil province. Iraqi police said the body was partially clad in what appeared to be U.S. military pants and boots.

The Reuters news agency quoted a river patrol officer in Musayyib as saying the man appeared to have been killed about a week ago.

The news was delivered as thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops continued scouring areas south and west of Baghdad in search of the two other missing soldiers, abducted during an ambush in which insurgents also killed four U.S. troops and an Iraqi interpreter. U.S. officials said this week that they believed at least two of the missing men were still alive.

Confirmation that one of the three had been killed, however, was greeted emotionally by members of Anzack's platoon.

"It just angers me that it's just another friend I've got to lose and deal with because I've already lost 13 friends since I've been here and I don't know if I can take any more than this," said Spc. Daniel Seitz, 22, the Associated Press reported.

Others vowed to sustain the hunt for the others as long as necessary.

"We can't leave them behind," said Pfc. Sammy Rhodes, 25, the wire service reported.

Aberle denied reports that a second set of remains had been found and was under examination.

In the attack in Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad, the car bomb near the al-Firdous Mosque killed at least 34 people and injured 66 others as mourners gathered to mark the death of Allawi al-Issawi.

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