BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S.-led forces killed one terrorist and detained 25 terror suspects in early morning raids Friday as the military said five U.S. servicemen died from wounds suffered in combat.
The operations targeted foreign fighters and the Al Qaeda in Iraq network, the military said in a statement. The suspects were believed to be responsible for the movement of foreign fighters, car bombs and direct attacks on Iraqi civilians and coalition forces, it said.
An Al Qaeda in Iraq financier was also captured, the statement said.
The U.S. military also announced that Iraqi forces backed by U.S. troops captured at least 17 suspected insurgents in several raids a day earlier, including two suspected leaders of an Al Qaeda in Iraq cell.
The suspected Al Qaeda in Iraq cell leaders were caught with another suspect on Thursday east of Baqouba, a U.S. military statement said. They were allegedly responsible for bombings and an assassination attempt on a senior Iraqi police officer, it said.
Also among those detained was the suspected leader of an insurgent cell in Taji, north of Baghdad, who was allegedly responsible for coordinating small arms, car bombs and roadside bombs targeting American and Iraqi forces, another statement said.
Iraqi special forces, with coalition advisers, entered Baghdad's volatile Sadr City neighborhood on Friday to try to capture the leader of an illegal armed group, a U.S. military statement said. The suspect is wanted for planning and conducting violent criminal activity, including illegal trials where Iraqi civilians are kidnapped, tried and sentenced without government authority, it said.
One U.S. soldier died and another was wounded Friday when their patrol came under "sporadic small arms and indirect fire," the military said in a statement. On Thursday, three Marines and one U.S. sailor died from wounds sustained in combat in western Anbar province, the military said.
Their names were withheld pending notification of their families.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrapped up his trip to Iraq, saying he hopes to give a report to U.S. President George W. Bush this weekend on what he learned during his three days of meetings with military and political leaders here.
Gates declined to say whether he plans to recommend a short-term increase in U.S. troop levels. But he said he believes the U.S. and Iraqis have "a broad strategic agreement between the Iraqi military and Iraqi government and our military."
"There is still some work to be done," Gates said. "But I do expect to give a report to the president on what I've learned and my perceptions."
Bush is considering whether to quickly send thousands of additional U.S. troops to the country to control the violence. There are 140,000 American troops in Iraq.
On the Iraqi side, officials close to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said the militia leader has agreed to allow supporters to rejoin the Iraqi government after a three-week boycott, even as political rivals pushed to form a coalition without him.
It was unclear whether a new coalition taking shape among Shiites, Kurds and one Sunni party would be able to govern effectively without the backing of al-Sadr's 30 loyalists in the 275-member parliament, and his six ministers in the 38-member Cabinet.
The cleric's followers had boycotted politics to protest the prime minister's recent meeting with President Bush, but appear to have decided to go back to parliament to strengthen their bargaining power — backed up by a militia army — and avoid political isolation.
On Friday, a parked car bomb killed two people and wounded four in Samarra, some 60 miles north of Baghdad, police said. A roadside bomb struck a police patrol near the national theater in downtown Baghdad, wounding two policemen.