U.S.-Iraqi raid kills 7 in Fallujah, an insurgent hotbed


FALLUJAH, Iraq — U.S. and Iraqi forces raided a neighborhood in the longtime Sunni Muslim insurgent stronghold of Fallujah early Wednesday, Iraqi officials said, killing seven people in the deadliest joint operation since President Barack Obama announced the end of the American combat mission in Iraq two weeks ago.

The incident underscored how American forces remain
engaged in offensive operations despite Obama’s declaration that the
fewer than 50,000 remaining U.S. troops would focus on advising and
training the Iraqi military and police.

Iraqi police officials said that the raid, which
also wounded three people, began when the U.S.-Iraqi team set off
explosives around 1:30 a.m. in the Jubail neighborhood of Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad. American military helicopters supported the joint operation, according to residents.

Witnesses said that soldiers fatally shot several members of two families and raided the neighboring home of Yaseen Kassar, a former lieutenant colonel in the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein. Kassar also was killed.

U.S. military officials refused to comment on the
operation, and there was no information on whether Kassar or any of the
other individuals killed had been the targets of the raid.

A senior police official in Fallujah,
who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t
authorized to talk to journalists, said Iraqi forces had sent advance
word that a raid was coming but didn’t offer details.

U.S. and Iraqi forces seized four of the dead bodies, witnesses said.

Fallujah, the largest city in western Anbar province, was once a hotbed of Sunni insurgent groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq. As the U.S. military has drawn down its forces in recent months, militants have tried to step up their attacks.

A fourth-grader, Ahmed Humadi, said that soldiers had shot and killed his father and three of his brothers at their home.

“They entered and started yelling and cursing us and
all the women,” Ahmed said. “I begged them to let me find my 5-year-old
brother, Ahmed, and they let me. I found him hiding behind the bed,
trembling and afraid.”

Family members said that Iraqi soldiers had
handcuffed them and held them for several hours after the raid and that
other relatives remained in military custody.

Also on Wednesday, nine off-duty Iraqi soldiers were
killed and five were wounded when a roadside bomb detonated outside the
northern city of Mosul, according to Iraqi police officials.


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