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250 Militants Killed During Najaf Battle
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Iraqi security forces backed by US helicopters killed about 250 militants yesterday during a day-long battle outside the Shiite holy city of Najaf, some 160 km south of Baghdad, a local police source told Xinhua News Agency.
Iraqi security forces battled fiercely with a group of radical militants who were planning to attack Shiite clerics during the upcoming Ashura commemoration, killing about 250 militants, the source said on condition of anonymity.

The US army also confirmed two soldiers killed l and one Apache helicopter destroyed during the battle.

"The clashes erupted when the Iraqi security forces raided orchards in the Zargah area north of Najaf, where they encountered attack from militants based in the orchards," the source said.

No US troops except for the US helicopters, providing air support, involved in the battle at the orchards, according to the source.

Explosions and heavy machine-gun fire were heard from early morning, lasting several hours during the day while US helicopters circled the battle area, witnesses said.

Reports emerged that one US Apache helicopter was shot down by the militants as smoke was rising from a site behind enemy lines.

The US military later confirmed the crash and said the remains of the crew members were recovered.


(Xinhua News Agency January 29, 2007)


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