U.S. Forces Kill 20 Insurgents in Iraq

October 23rd, 2005  
Team Infidel

Topic: U.S. Forces Kill 20 Insurgents in Iraq

By LEE KEATH - Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - (AP) U.S. troops and warplanes killed 20
insurgents Saturday while destroying safehouses for foreign militants near
the Syrian border, and four more American military deaths edged the war's
U.S. death toll closer to 2,000.
Iraqi election officials, meanwhile, said no significant fraud had
been detected in last weekend's constitutional referendum as they released
partial results. Officials indicated the final count would not come for at
least a few more days.
The day's heaviest fighting came when U.S.-led forces raided five
houses suspected of sheltering foreign fighters in Husaybah, a town near
Iraq's border with Syria, the military said. The troops reportedly killed 20
insurgents and captured one.
The raiders found two caches of small arms, ammunition,
rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rounds and bomb-making materials, the
military said. Troops set off a car bomb found near one of the buildings,
and the Air Force then used precision-guided munitions to destroy the
Seven Iraqis, including two civilians, were reported killed in
drive-by shootings and bombings Saturday. But in the week since the Oct. 15
constitutional referendum there have been none of the major suicide attacks
that militants had been staging.
Twenty-three U.S. military personnel have been reported dead over
the week, bringing the total of American dead since the war began in March
2003 to 1,996, according to an Associated Press Count. No agency keeps a
comprehensive count of Iraqi deaths from violence, but an AP count found
more than 3,700 killed since April 28, when the first elected government
took power.
The latest U.S. deaths reported by the military included a Marine
killed by an explosion near the western town of Haqlaniyah on Friday, the
final day of an offensive that began Oct. 4. After the blast, Marines fought
with insurgents, killing four and destroying a bunker with an unknown number
of gunmen inside, the military said.
Two more Marines were killed by a bomb during fighting near
Amiriyah, 25 miles west of Baghdad, the military said. A U.S. Army soldier
died in central Baghdad on Thursday of a "non-hostile gunshot."
Iraqis will have to wait until at least Monday to learn the final
outcome of the constitutional referendum.
Election officials were still examining unusually high "yes" votes
in four provinces, including Ninevah province, which is key to whether the
charter is adopted or rejected. But the Electoral Commission said there were
no signs of widespread fraud.
"We did not find any significant violations that would have any
effect on the final results of the referendum," commission member Safwat
Rashid said at a news conference in Baghdad.
Sunni Arab leaders have made accusations of fraud in key regions.
But Rashid said no major complaints had been lodged through the commission's
system for filing grievances and dismissed any other claims as "baseless."
Public faith in the final numbers is crucial after a referendum that
sharply divided Iraqis. The Shiite Muslim majority and the large Kurdish
minority strongly supported the constitution because it would give them
considerable autonomy in their oil-rich heartlands. Sunni Arabs were largely
opposed, arguing the charter would tear Iraq apart.
Sunni Arabs turned out in large numbers in a bid to defeat the
constitution, aiming to get a two-thirds "no" vote in three of Iraq's 18
provinces _ a result that would veto a nationwide majority "yes."
But the partial figures from 13 provinces released by the commission
Saturday suggested they faced a tough time making that goal. The results
were based on half the votes cast in each of the 13 provinces _ about 20
percent of the ballot boxes nationwide _ and gave strong "yes" votes in nine
of the provinces and said three others had narrower "yes" majorities.
Only one, the Sunni Arab province of Salahuddin north of Baghdad,
surpassed a two-thirds rejection of the constitution, marking an 81 percent
"no" vote, according to the partial results.
Opponents also likely reached that threshold in Anbar province,
which is overwhelmingly Sunni Arab, though the commission released no
results from there. For the third, they were looking to either Ninevah or
Diyala. But the partial returns said Diyala's vote was close to evenly
split, and previous reports put Ninevah far from a two-thirds "no" vote.
Defense lawyers in the trial of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein and
seven former officials in his Sunni Arab-dominated regime rejected
protection offered by Iraq's Interior Ministry after the kidnap-slaying of a
colleague Thursday, the day after the trial's opening session.
Khamees Hamid al-Ubaidi, one of Saddam's attorneys, said the 12
remaining defense lawyers rejected Interior Ministry guards "because of our
lack of trust in the Iraqi security agencies."
"Everyone knows there are elements in the Interior Ministry that
assassinate Iraqis," he said, referring to Sunni Arab suspicions about the
Shiite-led government.
Al-Ubaidi said the lawyers were in contact with American officials
about getting protection. A U.S. military spokesman said he was not aware of
a request for U.S. protection, and U.S. Embassy officials could not be
reached for comment.
Also Saturday, Britain's Sunday Telegraph reported that an opinion
poll shows 45 percent of Iraqis believe attacks against American and British
troops are justified and fewer than one percent believe U.S.-led coalition
forces have helped improve the country's security situation.
The study was commissioned by Britain's Ministry of Defense and
conducted by an Iraqi university research team, newspaper reported. The
paper didn't say how many people were questioned or give a margin of error.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense had no immediate comment on
the report.