US-led forces arrest over 400 Saddam loyalists as new group claims anti-US attacks
The United States army was pursuing a sweep of Saddam Hussein loyalists on Wednesday after rounding up over 400 people in an operation in northern Iraq, but lost two of its own.
US-led occupation forces conducted 69 raids in Operation Desert Scorpion, US Central Command said in a statement.
"The purpose of Operation Desert Scorpion, which started June 15, is to prepare the foundation for Iraqis to form a new self-rule government and provide a safe and secure environment to live and work," it said.
The statement put the total number of detained at more than 400, but said many had since been released. Those still being held included four people on a local "blacklist."
In Tikrit, ousted leader Saddam Hussein's hometown, and the oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk, "coalition forces conducted 36 raids and detained 215 individuals," army spokeswoman Sergeant First Class Mayra O'Neil said.
"In the Baghdad area, coalition forces conducted 11 raids and detained 156 individuals," she said, according to AFP.
Centcom said one US soldier was killed in Baghdad overnight during a patrol through the Iraqi capital, and another in an "apparent non-hostile incident" in the Taji area, north of the capital.
Meanwhile, a group calling itself the Iraqi Resistance Brigades claimed responsibility for "all" attacks against US-led occupation forces in Iraq since the end of the war, according to Al-Jazeera.
In a statement screened by Al-Jazeera, the group denied that the spate of attacks on US troops in Iraq in recent weeks was the work of loyalists to the toppled regime of Saddam. "The Iraqi Resistance Brigades claim responsibility for all revenge and combat operations against the occupation forces," the statement said. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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