Al-Zarqawi may be among dead in Iraq fight
Updated: 2005-11-21 06:15
U.S. forces sealed off a house in the northern city of Mosul where eight
suspected al-Qaida members died in a gunfight ！ some by their own hand to avoid
capture. A U.S. official said Sunday that efforts were under way to determine if
terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was among the dead.
Insurgents, meanwhile, killed an American
soldier and a Marine in separate attacks over the weekend, while a British
soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in the south.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is seen in this undated
photo released by the U.S. Department of State.
In Washington, a U.S. official said the identities of the terror suspects
killed in the Saturday raid was unknown. Asked if they could include al-Zarqawi,
the official replied: "There are efforts under way to determine if he was
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of
On Saturday, police Brig. Gen. Said Ahmed al-Jubouri said the raid was
launched after a tip that top al-Qaida operatives, possibly including
al-Zarqawi, were in the house in the northeastern part of the city.
During the intense gunbattle that followed, three insurgents detonated
explosives and killed themselves to avoid capture, Iraqi officials said. Eleven
Americans were wounded, the U.S. military said. Such intense resistance often
suggests an attempt to defend a high-value target.
American soldiers controlled the site Sunday, and residents said helicopters
flew over the area throughout the day. Some residents said the tight security
was reminiscent of the July 2003 operation in which Saddam Hussein's sons, Odai
and Qusai, were killed in Mosul.
The elusive al-Zarqawi has narrowly escaped capture in the past. U.S. forces
said they nearly caught him in a February 2005 raid that recovered his computer.
In May, the group said he was wounded in fighting and was taken out of the
country for treatment. Within days, it reported he had returned ！ though there
was never any independent confirmation that he was wounded.
The U.S. soldier killed Sunday near the capital was assigned to the Army's
Task Force Baghdad and was hit by small arms fire, the military said. The
Marine, assigned to Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division, died of
wounds suffered the day before in Karmah, a village outside Fallujah to the west
of the capital.
In the southern city of Basra, a roadside bomb killed a British soldier and
wounded four others, the British Ministry of Defense said. The ministry said 98
British soldiers have died in the Iraq conflict.
The U.S. military also said Sunday that 24 people ！ including another Marine
and 15 civilians ！ were killed the day before in an ambush on a joint U.S. Iraqi
patrol in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad in the volatile Euphrates
According to the U.S. statement, the attack began Saturday with a roadside
bomb detonating next to the Marine's vehicle, followed by a heavy volley of fire
"Iraqi army soldiers and Marines returned fire, killing eight insurgents and
wounding another," the statement said.
The three American deaths brought to at least 2,093 the number of U.S.
service members who have died since the war began in March 2003, according to an
Associated Press count.
Meanwhile, four women were killed Sunday night when gunmen stormed their home
in a Christian district of eastern Baghdad, police said, adding that valuables
were stolen and the motive for the attack appeared to have been robbery.
The latest deaths occurred at the end of a violent three-day period in which
at least 140 Iraqi civilians died in a series of bombings and suicide attacks ！
most targeting Shiite Muslims.
The victims included 76 people who died Friday in near-simultaneous suicide
bombings at two Shiite mosques in Khanaqin and 36 more killed the next day by a
suicide car bomber who detonated his vehicle amid mourners at a Shiite funeral
north of the capital.
In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday on ABC's
"This Week" that commanders' assessments will determine the pace of any military
drawdown. About 160,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq as the country approaches
parliamentary elections Dec. 15.
The Pentagon has said it plans to scale back troop strength to its
pre-election baseline of 138,000, depending on conditions. Rumsfeld said the
U.S.-led coalition continues to make progress in training Iraqi security forces,
which he placed at 212,000.
Rumsfeld also said talk in the United States of a quick withdrawal from Iraq
plays into the hands of the insurgents.
"The enemy hears a big debate in the United States, and they have to wonder
maybe all we have to do is wait and we'll win. We can't win militarily. They
know that. The battle is here in the United States," he told "Fox News Sunday."
In Cairo, Egypt, Iraq's president said Sunday he was ready for talks with
anti-government opposition figures and members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed
Baath Party, and he called on the Sunni-led insurgency to lay down its arms and
join the political process.
But President Jalal Talabani, attending an Arab League-sponsored
reconciliation conference, insisted that the Iraqi government would not meet
with Baath Party members who are participating in the Sunni-led insurgency and
attacking Iraqi and U.S.-led forces in the country.
"I am the president of Iraq and I am responsible for all Iraqis. If those who
describe themselves as Iraqi resistance want to contact me, they are welcome,"
Talabani told reporters. "I want to listen to all Iraqis. I am committed to
listen to them, even those who are criminals and are on trial."
Talabani made clear in his remarks, however, that he would talk with
insurgents and "criminals" only if they put down their weapons.
In Baghdad, hundreds of Sunnis demanded an end to the torture of detainees
and called for the international community to pressure Iraqi and U.S.
authorities to ensure that such abuse does not occur.
Anger over detainee abuse has increased sharply since U.S. troops found 173
detainees at an Interior Ministry prison in Baghdad's Jadriyah neighborhood. The
detainees, mainly Sunnis, were found malnourished and some had torture marks on
their bodies. Sunni Arabs dominate the insurgent ranks.
The 400 protesters carried posters of tortured detainees, disfigured dead
bodies and U.S. troops detaining Iraqis as they marched for a few hundred meters
(yards) through western Baghdad.
Iraq's Shiite-led government has promised an investigation and punishment for
anyone guilty of torture. Attacks against Shiite civilians by Sunni religious
extremists have occurred throughout the Iraq conflict but spiked since the
detainees were found last weekend.