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U.S. Military Says it Killed 25 Insurgents During Raids in Iraq

By Dexter Filkins
THE NEW YORK TIMES


BAGHDAD, IRAQ

The American military said Monday that it killed 25 insurgents in airstrikes and ground attacks on Sunday in Yusefiya, a turbulent city south of Baghdad that has attracted growing attention from American commanders.

Two American airmen died when their helicopter was shot down during the battle, the military said.

Two Marines were also killed Sunday by “enemy action” in Anbar province, the violent, largely Sunni province west of Baghdad, the military said.

The description of the fighting in Yusefiya offered by the military, with the high death tolls and the shooting down of a helicopter, suggested that the battle had been fierce.

In a statement, the military said that American soldiers on the ground in Yusefiya attacked a suspected insurgent safe house and killed two in people inside. The Americans entered the house, detained four suspects and treated three injured civilians, the statement said. As the Americans were evacuating three women by helicopter to a military hospital, the aircraft came under fire from the ground, the statement said.

American aircraft responded to the shooting with several airstrikes, killing approximately 20 insurgents, the statement said.

During the fighting, the Americans said they shot and killed three men who tried to ram American positions with a truck. One of the men, the Americans said, detonated a suicide vest after he was shot but injured no one. The man died.

The airstrikes ignited several “secondary” explosions from a car, suggesting that weapons and ammunition were stored inside, the military said.

The military operation on Sunday was one of several recently around Yusefiya, in a string of towns south of Baghdad where insurgent activity has been especially intense. Local Iraqis have told reporters that Yusefiya and the surrounding area, including Arab Al Jabour, are controlled by al-Qaida.

Saddam Hussein moved large numbers of his Sunni supporters to Yusefiya and nearby towns after the Shiite uprising in 1991. The Sunnis in the area have been among the staunchest opponents of the American presence in Iraq.

Earlier this month, intelligence and military officials in Washington said that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist suspected of directing dozens of suicide bombings, had been tracked to Yusefiya, and that his men had downed an Apache helicopter near there in April.