SLUG: 2-304324 Iraq/Fighting (L)
TITLE=IRAQ / FIGHTING (L)
BYLINE= SONJA PACE
/// INSIGHTED AS IRAQ / MILITARY ///
INTRO: U-S military officials say troops killed 27 armed fighters after an ambush in central Iraq, north of Baghdad. The officials made no mention of American casualties. V-O-A's Sonja Pace reports from Baghdad.
TEXT: A statement issued by the U-S Central Command says an organized group of fighters ambushed and fired rocket-propelled grenades at an American patrol in Balad, some 60 kilometers north of Baghdad.
The military said the patrol fired back, initially killing four of the armed men, and then pursued the others.
This is the latest in a series of clashes and operations throughout this past week.
On Thursday, U-S warplanes bombed an alleged training camp for Saddam loyalists, 150 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, in a search for paramilitary units and other supporters of the ousted Iraqi leader. A U-S military spokesman said Friday the operation to flush out Saddam loyalists in the area was still going on.
Also on Thursday, a U-S Apache helicopter was shot down in western Iraq, by what military officials termed hostile forces. U-S ground troops in the area rescued the crew members, who were uninjured.
U-S forces have come under increasing attack in recent weeks, and earlier this week, the military launched an assault on this armed guerrilla opposition. In an operation dubbed Peninsula Strike, thousands of American troops have swept through an area north of Baghdad, which was Saddam Hussein's stronghold.
Dozens of Iraqis are reported to have been killed in these operations, and hundreds of others detained. Several American soldiers have also been reported injured. (SIGNED)
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