Iraqi commandos, backed by US forces, raided a hospital in northern Mosul allegedly used by insurgents, and detained three people overnight, the US military said yesterday.
US troops sweeping through Fallujah found what appeared to be a key command center of terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, along with a workshop where an SUV registered in Texas was being converted into a bomb and a classroom containing flight plans and instructions on shooting down planes.
Gunbattles flared as troops hunted holdout insurgents in the city west of Baghdad. One US Marine and one Iraqi soldier were killed, US officials said.
On Thursday, commandos with the Ministry of Interior's Special Police Force cordoned off the al-Zaharawi Hospital in the western Shefa neighborhood of Mosul on Thursday, after getting information that insurgents were using the hospital to treat their wounded, said Lieutenant Colonel Paul Hastings with Task Force Olympia.
US forces from the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment secured the outer area around the hospital, while Iraqi troops stormed the inside, detaining three individuals suspected of being participants in terrorist activities, he said.
Hospital workers also told Iraqi forces that 23 bodies brought into the morgue were believed to be members of a terrorist cell. Photos were taken of the bodies were taken and the three suspected militants are being held for questioning, Hastings said.
US and Iraqi forces began a major military operation Tuesday to wrest control of the western part of Mosul after gunmen last week stormed police stations, bridges and political offices in apparent support of Fallujah guerrillas.
Yesterday, three of the five bridges had been reopened to traffic and most of the city remained calm, though US forces came under some "indirect fire" that caused no injuries, Hastings said.
Meanwhile, US troops sweeping through Fallujah Thursday found what appeared to be a key command center of terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, along with a workshop where an SUV registered in Texas was being converted into a bomb and a classroom containing flight plans and instructions on shooting down planes.
Lieutenant General John Sattler, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said the US casualty toll in the Fallujah offensive stood at 51 dead and about 425 wounded. An estimated 1,200 insurgents have been killed, with about 1,025 enemy fighters detained, the military says.
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