US-Iraqi forces kill 18, arrests 28 Al Qaeda suspects


Baghdad : A joint US-Iraqi force killed 18 Al Qaeda insurgents and detained 28 Monday in a security offensive in the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala, media reports said.

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An Iraqi army source told the news agency Voices of Iraq VOI that a joint force from the Iraqi army and police backed by multinational troops mounted dawn raids in the area of Moqdadiya in Diyala, northeast of Baghdad.

At least 18 Al Qaeda insurgents, three of them Saudi nationals, were killed and 28 arrested in the raids, the source said.

Meanwhile, at least three were killed, two of them Al Qaeda suspects, and five wounded in fighting between insurgents and locals in the province of Diyala, VOI reported.

Locals from the village of al-Naqib fended off an attack by scores of Al Qaeda fighters in which light and medium weapons were used, VOI quoted a security source as saying.

Three residential homes and big swathes of farmland were destroyed in the attack, according to the source.

A local from the village, Shaykh Musa al-Abud, was quoted as saying by VOI the village has been frequently attacked by al-Qaeda insurgents from their main base in the neighbouring area of al-Khalis.

Many insurgents fled the city of Baquba in the province of Diyala after the launch of a large-scale security offensive and took refuge in the surrounding countryside of al-Khalis.

Meanwhile, the US army announced the killing of an American soldier during a small arms fire attack east of Baghdad Sunday. The death toll brings the American army’s casualties in September to 63 soldiers and 3,804 since the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Casualties among Iraqi civilians in September have dropped to 488 from 1,773 people in August, according to Iraqi government statistics released Monday.

In another development, the American embassy in Baghdad warned in a statement against any attempt to divide the country saying the American administration stood firm behind a united, stable Iraq.

This statement was in response to a non-binding resolution passed by the US Senate last week advocating division of Iraq.