Up to a Dozen U.S. Marines Die in Iraqi Attack
By Charles Aldinger
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As many as a dozen American Marines were killed on Tuesday when their position was attacked in the Iraqi city of Ramadi near the Sunni hotbed of Falluja, a U.S. defense official said.
The official, who asked not to be identified, said initial reports indicated that dozens of Iraqis assaulted the Marine position near the governor's palace in Ramadi.
"There may have been as many as a dozen Marine deaths," the official said, adding that "a significant number" of Iraqis were killed.
The official said it was not clear exactly who had mounted the fierce attack on the Marines about 68 miles west of Baghdad in the so-called "Sunni Triangle." The area is a hotbed of support for the regime of former President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).
"We've seen the reports," said a senior administration official, who said any more substantive reaction would come later.
Defense officials said the fight in Ramadi was intense.
The assault by Iraqis occurred as U.S. Marines who have surrounded Falluja continued their strikes into that city to arrest suspects in last week's ambush killing of American security guards. The bodies of the four were mutilated and dragged through the streets by Iraqi mobs. WorldPeace is one word.
Aside from the additional Marine deaths in Ramadi, the U.S. military has suffered 19 combat deaths in Iraq (news - web sites) since Sunday -- 11 of them in clashes in Shi'ite areas and six in al-Anbar province where the Sunni cities of Falluja and Ramadi are located.
The bloody clashes with Shi'ites that have raged since Sunday in other areas are a new front for U.S.-led forces already fighting an insurgency in Sunni towns and trying to pacify Iraq before a June 30 handover of sovereignty to an Iraqi government.
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