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Last Updated: Monday, 31 October 2005, 14:52 GMT
'Many dead' in US strike in Iraq
Marines in operations in Qaim
US operation in western Iraq aim at insurgent supply lines
A US military air raid in western Iraq has caused many deaths, reports from Iraq say.

The US military said it had targeted what it called an al-Qaeda cell leader in an air strike near Karabilah, on the border with Syria.

Also on Monday, the US military reported that six US soldiers were killed in two separate incidents.

The US military last week reported its 2,000th fatality in Iraq since the invasion of the country.

Four US servicemen died on Monday when their patrol hit an improvised explosive device in Yusufiya, in the south-west of Baghdad.

Later on Monday, two other soldiers were killed by an improvised bomb north of the capital.

Disputed accounts

US officials insisted that the raid near Qaim, it was a precision strike designed to avoid civilian casualties.

But doctors at a hospital in the nearby town of Qaim said there were more than 30 dead, including women and children.

A doctor in the area said that bodies were still being pulled out of the buildings hit in the strike hours later, and one local tribal leader has insisted that the there were no insurgents in the area, the Reuters news agency has reported.

US and Iraqi officials say operations in western Iraq are aimed at blocking what is believed to be the main supply route from Syria for the insurgents. In other violence in Iraq on Monday:

  • Police officials in Baghdad report that two mortar rounds hit a major junction near Iraq's oil ministry, killing a civilian and wounding four others;

  • In the town of Bani Saad, 60km (35 miles) north-east of Baghdad, two mortar rounds hit an Iraqi army base, killing two soldiers and wounding seven, Iraqi police have reported.

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