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Last Updated: Monday, 9 May, 2005, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
US forces 'kill Iraq insurgents'
Burned Iraqi police car, Baghdad, 9 May 2005
Baghdad has been facing almost daily car bombings
The US military in Iraq says it has killed 75 insurgents, including foreign fighters, in a desert region close to the border with Syria.

The operation, in Anbar province, involved air and ground forces, the military said in a statement.

A day earlier, the US said it had killed six insurgents and detained 54 suspects in raids in the area.

In the capital Baghdad, at least three people were killed in a suicide car bomb at a police checkpoint.

Two police officers and a civilian died in the early morning blast.

About nine people were wounded when the bomber - who also died - drove into two police cars at a checkpoint in southern al-Darwish district.

The capital has faced almost daily car bombings over the last few weeks, as Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari struggled to form a government.

Parliament finally approved the key defence and oil ministry posts on Sunday. The new defence minister is Saadoun al-Dulaimi, a Sunni Arab. Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum, a Shia, fills the oil ministry portfolio.

The cabinet was sworn in for a second time on Monday after complaints from Kurdish leaders that the oath read by ministers last week had missed out a reference to a "federal Iraq".

Post refused

The US did not say if any of its troops were killed or injured in the operation in Anbar province, in the west of Iraq.

NEW MINISTERS
Defence: Dr Saadoun al-Dulaimi (Sunni)
Oil: Dr Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum (Shia)
Deputy prime minister: Abid Mutlak al-Jubouri (Sunni)
Electricity: Dr Mohsen Shlash (Shia)
Industry: Usama al-Najafi (Sunni)

The statement said the region was "a known smuggling route and sanctuary for foreign fighters".

Earlier this month, the commander of US forces in the Gulf, Gen John Abizaid, accused Syria of ignoring US demands to stop foreign fighters crossing into Iraq.

It is hoped that with credible Sunnis in the cabinet, the Iraqi government will be able to rob the insurgency of any support it enjoys among the disaffected minority.

But in a setback for the government, Hashim al-Shible, a Sunni Arab, turned down the post of human rights minister on Sunday, saying he did not want to take on a post purely on the basis of his ethnicity.

Three months after the election, Mr Jaafari has indicated he is seeking a woman for the other vacant cabinet job - a deputy prime minister.




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More than 1,000 troops were reportedly involved in the offensive




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