Iraq: Three US troops die, clashes reported on Syria border as Zarqawi expands network
U.S. forces and warplanes killed 20 "insurgents" and destroyed five "safe houses" Saturday during an operation against al-Qaeda in Iraq near the Syrian border, the military said. The US military said in a statement that the killings took place during raids on houses in Husaybah, a town near the Syrian border.
Three U.S. Marines and an Army soldier were reported killed in three different areas of Iraq earlier this week.
One Marine was killed in a blast near Haqlaniyah on Friday, the AP reported. Following this, Marines killed four men and destroyed a bunker adjacent to their position, the military said.
Elsewhere, two Marines died Friday by a roadside bomb during near Amiriyah, 25 miles west of Baghdad, the military said.
On Thursday, a U.S. Army soldier died of a "non-hostile gunshot wound" in central Baghdad.
In other incidents on Saturday, two roadside bombs and a drive-by shooting killed three Iraqi policemen and injured four in Baghdad, authorities said. Gunmen also killed a former Iraqi soldier in front of his home in Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad, police said.
In Washington, U.S. intelligence officials claimed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, has expanded his "terrorism" campaign from Iraq to two dozen groups scattered across almost 40 countries, creating a network that rivals Osama bin Laden's.
The U.S. officials said the threat to American interests from al-Zarqawi compared with that from bin Laden, to whom al-Zarqawi pledged his loyalty a year ago.