BAGHDAD - Two U.S. soldiers in Iraq were killed and four were wounded in a spate of guerrilla attacks in which at least two Iraqis also died, the U.S. military and witnesses said Monday.
The latest violence, in Baghdad and a town to the west of the capital, was the latest indication that U.S. occupation forces were facing guerrilla warfare in Sunni Muslim central Iraq, once the cradle of support for Saddam Hussein.
A U.S. military spokesman said one soldier was killed while a patrol was pursuing Iraqi gunmen in the Azamiyah district of Baghdad late on Sunday. An Iraqi gunman was killed and another wounded in the clash.
The second U.S. soldier was killed early Monday when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle in the district of Kadhimiya.
The fatalities brought to 29 the number of U.S. soldiers killed in action in Iraq since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1. A soldier was shot and fatally wounded at Baghdad University on Sunday.
At least one Iraqi man was shot dead and four U.S. soldiers wounded during a night of attacks in the volatile town of Ramadi, the military said on Monday.
Six Iraqi assailants ambushed a U.S. position in the town, around 60 miles west of Baghdad, but it was not clear whether the attackers used rocket-propelled grenades or a bomb, a U.S. spokesman in Ramadi said.
"At about that time, one of our vehicles was attempting to impose a roadblock. A Toyota truck approached. One of the men in the Toyota truck was shot and killed. The other was detained for questioning," Captain Michael Calvert told Reuters.
U.S. officers did not say who had killed the man. But staff at Ramadi general hospital said U.S. troops arrived there late on Sunday night and left a body of a decapitated man, saying they had shot him because he did not stop at their checkpoint.
A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said four soldiers had been wounded in the ambush.
On Saturday, seven recruits to a U.S.-backed Iraqi police force were killed in Ramadi when a remote-controlled bomb exploded outside a police station.
Ramadi is part of a mainly Sunni Muslim area to the north and west of Baghdad where U.S. forces have faced much of the most violent resistance to their occupation of Iraq.
Some residents said two people had been shot by U.S. forces on Sunday night but Calvert had reports of only one death. He said there had also been a mortar attack during the night.
U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts told CNN Sunday intelligence reports indicated there was now about a 70-30 chance Saddam was alive, up from 50-50 in the early days after his ouster by U.S.-led forces on April 9.
Underlining the importance Washington now attaches to resolving Saddam's fate after putting a $25 million reward on his head, Roberts said: "It is a big ticket item for us if we're going to eliminate the fear (among Iraqis) and be successful."
A taped message purporting to be from Saddam aired on Arab television Friday told Iraqis to rally behind resistance to the occupation of their country by U.S.-led forces.
While Washington points the finger at Saddam loyalists, many Iraqis say discontent is mounting in the country over what is seen as failure by the U.S.-led administration in Baghdad to return government quickly to Iraqi hands and rebuild the state.
The chief of Turkey's armed forces said Monday the weekend arrest of Turkish troops by U.S. forces in Iraq had caused a crisis in relations between the two NATO armed forces.
"It turned into a major crisis of trust between the Turkish and U.S. armed forces and became a crisis," Chief of General Staff Hilmi Ozkok told reporters in Ankara.
The eleven Turkish soldiers were released Sunday evening and returned on Monday to their offices in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniya.
(Additional reporting by Michael Georgy in Ramadi)
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