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US troops detain 25 Iraqis in raids
( 2003-08-04 09:13) (Agencies)

US soldiers detained about two dozen people, including a "targeted leader" of Saddam Hussein's regime, in a series of Sunday raids against people said to be participating in the violent resistance to the US occupation.

A US Army soldier with the 1st Batallion 22nd Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Divison speaks on the radio(R)as he gets instructions prior to a raid in the city of Tikrit, about 110 miles (180 kms) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq Aug. 3, 2003. Simultaneous raids on five locations resulted in one detainee.[AP]
The US military said Sunday there had been no fatal attacks on American soldiers in Iraq for two days - a respite from the increased violence against Americans in Iraq since Saddam Hussein's sons were killed in a US raid on July 22.

Sunday's raids by the 3rd Armored Cavalry in the so-called "Sunni Triangle" west and north of the capital netted 24 "regime loyalists, including a targeted leader," the US Central Command said. It provided no details on the identities of the captives.

About 300 soldiers raided five sites on the outskirts of Saddam's hometown of Tikrit late Sunday, in a series of raids aimed at capturing men behind guerrilla attacks on US troops, said Lt. Col. Steve Russell, commander of the 22nd Infantry Regiment's 1st Battalion.

Soldiers failed to capture their two main targets in the raid, but detained a close associate of one of the guerrilla organizers and obtained important documents and information, Russell said. The raids were launched after the Army received a tip that members of Saddam's regime would be meeting at one of the sites, but soldiers found no meeting, he said.

"The ring is closing and as we see more and more people (captured), each individual becomes more important in providing protection for those who still survive," Russell said.

An Iraqi contract worker for the UN Development Program suffered minor injuries when his car hit a land mine on the road from Baghdad International Airport to the city center.

The explosion, which set the car ablaze, came shortly after the driver passed a convoy of three US Humvees traveling the same road, which has been the scene of many recent attacks on American soldiers.

The American occupation authority also reported settling 1,168 claims totaling $262,263 brought by Iraqis for deaths, injuries or property damage by American forces.

Representatives of the US Judge Advocate General's office in the Iraqi capital said it had received more than 2,500 claims for compensation and had dealt with nearly 1,500, rejecting about 20 percent as having no foundation.

Violence against US soldiers spiked after the raid in which Saddam's sons, Odai and Qusai Hussein, were killed by American forces in a gun battle at a villa in Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad.

The brothers were buried Saturday in a village just outside Tikrit.

Since President Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq on May 1, 52 US soldiers have been killed in guerrilla attacks.

The US civilian administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, has blamed attacks against Americans on four groups - loyalists of Saddam's Baath Party, the Fedayeen Saddam militia, members of the ousted and once-feared security forces and foreign terrorists.

US officials increasingly have laid blame for the violence on foreign fighters, suggesting the guerrilla tactics now being used are similar to those employed by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan.

Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council, meanwhile, continued to work on the appointment of new ministers to run government departments.

A council spokesman said no names had been chosen, because the governing body was waiting for a fuller report from the American administrators who have been running the various ministries since shortly after Saddam's ouster on April 9.

"There is no problem regarding the naming of the ministers, but we need to know the present situation of the ministries, for example, which ministries should be operating and which should not, the staff working in the ministries and the condition of the buildings," council spokesman Hoshyar Zebari said.

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