US forces kill 15 suspected insurgents in Iraq raids

Reuters/June 20, 2006

Baghdad - U.S. forces hunting insurgents linked to al Qaeda in Iraq killed 15 gunmen in simultaneous raids north of Baghdad on Tuesday, the U.S. military said in a statement.

"The raids were targeting individuals associated with a suspected senior al Qaeda in Iraq network member targeted in previous Coalition operations," the statement said of the operation, which took place near the insurgent stronghold of Baquba.

Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. air strike on a "safe" house near Baquba on June 7.

Reuters footage showed 13 bodies covered with blankets lying in the back of open trucks. All were male. A police source said one of the dead was a 12-year-old boy.

The U.S. military said U.S. forces came under small arms fire when they raided the area.

"The ground force returned fire, killing nine armed terrorists on the rooftop, and an additional two armed terrorists who were identified firing on Coalition forces from next to the building, were killed by Coalition aircraft supporting fire," it said in a statement.

An aircraft supporting the troops on the ground hit power lines and had to make a controlled landing. None of the crew were injured, the military said.

"Three armed suspects were then killed by another Coalition aircraft as they attempted to attack the downed aircraft," the statement said.

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