US forces found 13 more bodies in and around Mosul, the military said yesterday, bringing to 35 the number of corpses discovered in the past week in the area shaken by an insurgent uprising.
In Fallujah, insurgents ambushed US troops as they entered a home during their house-to-house searches, killing two Marines and wounding three others, the US military said yesterday.
Lieutenant General John Sattler, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said the Marines responded with gunfire, killing three rebels hiding inside.
US troops have continued clearing operations in Fallujah, which came under a massive week-long US-led assault that began Nov. 8. Sattler said about 50 percent of the houses in the city have already been cleared.
Sattler vowed that the city 65km west of Baghdad will be safe in time for next January's elections.
In Mosul, the US military said that 11 of the 35 bodies found have been identified as members of the Iraqi security forces, who have been targeted by insurgents. The others have not been identified.
US forces patrolling Mosul and nearby Tal Afar on Thursday morning found nine bodies on the western side of Mosul, said Lieutenant Colonel Paul Hastings, a spokesman with Task Force Olympia.
Two more bodies were found in the city later in the day.
"It's a continued campaign of threats, intimidation and murder by insurgents to spread fear into the public. Their campaign has been directed at what appears to be Iraqi security forces," Hastings said.
In Tal Afar, one Iraqi National Guard soldier was found dead while a second body discovered in a different location was unidentified.
Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, was the site of a mass insurgent uprising in apparent support of Fallujah guerrillas following the US-led assault. In the wake of the mass attacks, US and Iraqi forces were sent in to retake parts of the city but insurgents have managed to hit back.
Twenty other bodies have been found in Mosul since last Thursday. At least 10 of the bodies -- nine of them shot execution-style -- belonged to the Iraqi regular army, based at the al-Kisik military base about 50km west of Mosul.
Meanwhile, prominent Sunni Muslim politicians have urged a postponement of the Jan. 30 elections, and a senior official said the government had agreed to meet outside the country with former president Saddam Hussein supporters to try to convince them to abandon the insurgency.
Adnan Pachachi, a former foreign minister and a member of the Iraqi National Council, said delaying the ballot by three months or more would enable political leaders to convince Sunni clerics and others to abandon their boycott call.
"I think that it will not be in the interest of anyone to let large segments of the Iraqi population be completely left out of the political process," Pachachi said.
Seven other Sunni parties also demanded a delay, saying they want guarantees that they won't be marginalized in any new government.