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US says air strike kills Iraq al Qaeda fighters
Updated: 2005-08-30 20:54

The U.S. military said it had killed an al Qaeda militant named Abu Islam and a number of other fighters in air strikes on Tuesday on Husayba and Karabila, close to Qaim on the Syrian border.

"Intelligence leads Coalition forces to believe that Abu Islam and several of his associates were killed in the air strike," a spokeswoman said in Baghdad.

A hospital official in Qaim told Reuters at least 47 people died in the U.S.-led strikes. Mohammed al-Aani said 35 people died in one house and another 12 in a strike on a second house.

The U.S. military said in a statement it had carried out three separate strikes, initially dropping four bombs on a house in Husayba.

"At approximately 6:20 a.m. (0220 GMT), two bombs were dropped on a second house in Husayba, occupied by Abu Islam, a known terrorist," the statement said. "Islam and several other suspected terrorists were killed in that attack."

A U.S. spokeswoman said some of Abu Islam's associates then drove around six km (four miles) to a house in Karabila.

"Around 8:30 a.m., a strike was conducted on the house in Karabila using two precision-guided bombs. Several terrorists were killed in the strike but exact numbers are not known," the statement said.

Abu Islam is an alias used by several known Islamist militants.

Qaim lies in the Euphrates valley, which U.S. forces say serves as a route into Iraq from Syria for foreign Islamist fighters.

U.S. marines have launched several ground offensives against insurgents in the area in the past four months but residents and local officials say Islamist insurgents remain a significant force in several towns along the river.

The strikes came as U.S. and Iraqi forces are battling a Sunni Arab insurgency against the Shi'ite and Kurdish-led government in Baghdad.

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