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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 January 2007, 22:24 GMT
Baghdad fighting 'kills dozens'
Smoke rises over western Baghdad
The battle raged from the early hours of the morning
US and Iraqi troops have killed at least 50 militants during a battle in a Sunni stronghold of Baghdad, the Iraqi defence ministry says.

At least 1,000 soldiers backed by US aircraft fought the militants in the Haifa Street district.

The Iraqi military says it aims to purge the area of "terrorists".

US President George W Bush is expected on Wednesday to outline a new strategy for Iraq which may include sending 20,000 more US troops to Baghdad.

A first wave of extra troops will go into Iraq before the end of the month, a senior defence official has said, quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

All our political, economic, media, security and military resources will be used to support the operations which the capital Baghdad is waiting for
Nouri Maliki
Iraqi prime minister

But many Democrats - who now control the US Congress - are against further deployments in Iraq.

Senator Edward Kennedy, a Democrat and long-time critic of the war, has proposed legislation requiring congressional approval for funds needed to send more troops to Iraq.

In other developments:

  • A plane carrying Turkish construction workers crashed on landing north of Baghdad, killing more than 30 people

  • A new video appeared on the internet showing the body of Saddam Hussein with a gaping neck wound after his execution

  • UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the way Saddam Hussein's execution was carried out was "completely wrong"

Security plan

The Baghdad clashes follow two days of violence in the Sunni stronghold, after an Iraqi army unit found 27 bodies dumped in the nearby Sheikh Marouf cemetery

Haifa Street
The military reportedly sent troops to arrest those responsible for the killings, triggering the fighting.

Early on Tuesday, gunmen attacked Iraqi military checkpoints leading to the cemetery.

The Iraqi forces called for support from their US counterparts, and together they sealed off the district and began house-to-house raids.

The Iraqi defence ministry said 21 militants - including seven foreigners - were arrested.

The fighting came hours after Prime Minister Nouri Maliki promised tough action against illegal armed groups.

"All our political, economic, media, security and military resources will be used to support the operations which the capital Baghdad is waiting for," he said.

US aircraft over Baghdad during the clashes

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