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US, Iraqi Forces Battle Insurgents in Baghdad

24 January 2007

U.S. and Iraqi troops clashed with gunmen Wednesday in Baghdad's Haifa Street, a known stronghold of Sunni Arab insurgents.

The U.S. military said the clash broke out after Iraqi and U.S. soldiers launched targeted raids to capture militants in the area, which is just north of the heavily-fortified Green Zone of Baghdad.

News reports say U.S. helicopters were seen flying past high-rise buildings and several armored vehicles were seen around Haifa Street.

Earlier this month, U.S. and Iraqi troops fought hours-long battles with insurgents in the same area. Separately, the U.S. military announced the deaths of two Marines, who were killed Tuesday in combat operations in Al Anbar province.

In another development, gunmen opened fire on the motorcade of Iraq's higher education minister Abed Dhiab al-Ajili in Baghdad, killing one of his guards. The minister said he was heading to work when the attack took place in the mostly Sunni district of Dora.

Earlier, the U.S. military said coalition forces captured three suspected al-Qaida-linked terrorists during a raid north of Baghdad.

On Tuesday, five people were killed when a helicopter owned by a private U.S. security company crashed in central Baghdad. Witnesses said the helicopter was fired on before it went down. But U.S. defense officials said there was no indication that the aircraft owned by Blackwater U.S.A. was shot down. U.S. officials have not disclosed the identity of the victims.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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