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Iraq al Qaeda fighters said killed; 47 said dead
Updated: 2005-08-30 21:50

U.S. warplanes launched strikes in western Iraq on Tuesday which the U.S. military said killed an al Qaeda militant named Abu Islam among other fighters, and which a hospital source said killed at least 47 people.

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

A hospital official in Qaim, near the Syrian border, 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, near Qaim.

"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 region is home to two Sunni Arab tribes, one loyal to al Qaeda and the other to the Iraqi government. They clashed on Saturday, killing at least 20 people and wounding scores, clerics and hospital officials in the town said.

The tribes had fought months ago, and violent confrontations erupted again on Friday and Saturday near Qaim.

Tuesday's air strikes came as U.S. and Iraqi forces battle a Sunni Arab insurgency against the Shi'ite and Kurdish-led government in Baghdad.

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