Several killed as Cheney says success depends on Iraqi leaders
U.S.-led forces conducted a raid in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City early Thursday, killing three gunmen as they tried to break up a cell accused of smuggling weapons from Iran to fight U.S. forces, the military said.
Just after midnight, a joint U.S.-Iraqi force on a raid in the southern part of the Shiite slum of Sadr City, came under fire from two buildings, the military said in a statement, cited by the AP. After a gunbattle, the soldiers called in an airstrike that killed three armed insurgents, it said.
In other violence, two gunmen on a motorcycle killed an Iraqi military intelligence officer as he drove through Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of Baghdad.
Iraqi police also discovered two bodies floating in a river in Mahaweel, 35 miles south of Baghdad. Two other bodies of police officers, one of them a colonel, were found in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, police said.
Meanwhile, US Vice President Dick Cheney ended a two-day visit to Iraq on Thursday warning that the country's own leaders were the only ones able to bring their conflict to an end.
"Success in that effort depends on Iraq's leaders themselves, and the ultimate solution in this country will be a political solution," Cheney told some 2,000 US soldiers. "But that requires basic security, especially in Baghdad, where Americans are working beside Iraqi forces to carry out the new strategy," said the vice president, according to AFP.
Cheney spent the night at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, thus becoming the most senior US official to overnight in Iraq since the March 2003 US-led invasion, before attending intelligence briefings and a troop rally.
"It was a good report, and I come away with even more appreciation for all you do, and greater confidence for the days ahead," Cheney told the soldiers.
Cheney noted that the top US military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said the troops were operating in "the most complex and challenging" environment he has ever seen. "Extremists from inside and outside the country want to stir an endless cycle of violence, and Al-Qaeda is operating and trying to open new fronts," said Cheney.
"Some seem to have no interest in seeing the emergency of a strong, secure and democratic Iraq. A violent minority is trying to tear down the institutions of peaceful self-government that Iraqis are trying to build."