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US Military: Coalition Airstrike Kills 25 Militants near Baquba

05 October 2007

The U.S. military in Iraq says about 25 militants were killed and two houses destroyed in a U.S. air strike near Baquba, north of Baghdad Friday.

A military statement says support aircraft were called in after coalition troops came under attack during a raid targeting a "special groups" commander believed linked to the Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

The military says gunmen opened fire with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, and at least one person was seen carrying what appeared to be an anti-aircraft weapon.

Iraqi authorities say about 30 people were wounded in the pre-dawn air strike on a Shi'ite neighborhood, in Khalis, northwest of Baquba.

Iraqi officials say civilians were among the dead.

U.S. military commanders have repeatedly accused the Quds force of providing support to insurgent groups in Iraq seeking to destabilize the country and target U.S. troops.

In other developments, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, told the Washington Post he will recommend that five Iranians captured by U.S. forces in January not be released when their case is reviewed this month.

U.S. military officials have said the five were helping militants in Iraq fight U.S. and Iraqi forces. Tehran says the men were diplomats and has demanded their release.

Separately, the U.S. military says it is investigating the deaths of three Iraqi civilians shot by coalition troops Thursday in a village near Musayyib, south of Baghdad. The incident happened near a checkpoint set up by Iraqis who have joined the fight against extremists.

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

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