U.S. Military: 19 Shiite Extremists Killed in Iraq

Clashes in Baghdad between U.S. soldiers and Shiite extremists left 19 militants dead, and one American soldier died of non-combat injuries, the military said Saturday.

The U.S. soldier, who was assigned to the Multi National Division — Center, died of non-combat related injuries Friday, the military said.

Iraqi health authorities said Saturday that 13 people were killed and 77 others wounded — including women and children — in clashes in the Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City district since Friday. It was not clear whether any militants were among them. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Some residents in Sadr City huddled around half a dozen torched cars on Saturday morning, AP Television News footage showed. Two men held a blood-covered sheet and pillow outside a house, the footage showed.

During clashes on Friday, Shiite militants also launched rockets toward the fortified Green Zone, taking advantage of a sandstorm that gave cover from attacks by U.S. aircraft. Some rockets fell short, including one that damaged the British Broadcasting Corp. bureau.

U.S. authorities did not confirm any strikes inside the Green Zone, which includes the U.S. Embassy and much of the Iraqi government.

The rocket salvos from Sadr City came in response to a U.S.-led push into Sadr City, the Baghdad stronghold of the powerful Mahdi Army led by anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. One of the American objectives is to push militants deeper into the district and put their rockets and mortars out of range for the Green Zone.

But that also has increased the chances of the shells falling short into civilian areas. One rocket hit the roof of the BBC bureau, damaging equipment but causing no injuries.

U.S. authorities plan to complete a barrier up to 12 feet tall in parts of Sadr City. It seeks to cut off militia movement and enable the military to exert more control over the most restive section of the district — a vast slum of about 2.5 million people.

Eleven militants attacked U.S. forces, building the barrier in Sadr City on Friday, but all were killed in the ensuing clash, the military said. militants were also killed Friday in other Shiite-neighborhoods, including New Baghdad, it said.

Dozens of men held a framed picture of al-Sadr as they marched to the cemetery for a funeral in Sadr City on Saturday, chanting "there is no God, but Allah," the television footage showed.