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Military investigates hostile fire in 'green zone'

Damage assessment under way

A U.S. soldier with the 4th Infantry Division loads a Christmas tree into his Humvee at Tikrit's military base Thursday.
A U.S. soldier with the 4th Infantry Division loads a Christmas tree into his Humvee at Tikrit's military base Thursday.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Two or three mortars or rockets were fired late Thursday into Baghdad's "green zone," in the vicinity of the U.S.-led administration's headquarters, a U.S. military spokesman said.

The official did not say what was hit. There were no reports of injuries, and military officials are assessing the damage, the spokesman said.

Earlier Thursday, in what appeared to be a coordinated assault, Iraqi insurgents launched strikes a little farther away from the site of the Coalition Provisional Authority's offices and at the Turkish Embassy.

Sirens blared after the early morning explosions. Capt. Jason Beck with the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division said the dawn attacks numbered at least eight and were "weak and ineffective."

U.S. forces -- reacting to a heightened state of alert for terror attacks -- are braced for guerrilla assaults during the holiday season. Troops continue to root out insurgents and their weapons throughout the country.

On Christmas morning, at least two rocket-propelled grenades hit the Sheraton Ishtar Hotel, showering broken glass and debris throughout the lobby and causing some damage to the building's atrium. Hotel staff quickly worked to sweep up the mess.

Another rocket-propelled grenade whistled past the hotel and other rockets exploded near the U.N. compound, the Iraqi Interior Ministry and an abandoned police station.

There were also reports of damage on a nearby apartment block and injuries to a woman and a man.

Rockets were fired toward the Turkey Embassy in Baghdad on Thursday and one of them struck the embassy's adjacent residence, a Turkish Embassy source told CNN.

The Turkish source said it is unclear how many rockets were fired, but there were several explosions. There were no casualties and only minor damage at the residence, the source said.

It is unclear whether the embassy attack was one of the eight reported by the military. The embassy complex is in the Waziriya neighborhood in the northeastern part of the city.

The attacks on the coalition stronghold came during a week in which the U.S. military launched Operation Iron Grip, targeting Iraqi insurgents in Baghdad.

For the second night in a row, operations focused on the area of Al Daura, south of Baghdad. Residents told CNN they heard tank fire and then heard aircraft and aircraft artillery.

Beck said more than a dozen raids were carried out as part of the overnight operation with "eight significant individuals in captivity" -- including bomb makers, Saddam loyalists, cell leaders and one person with links to a terrorist organization.

The high-ranking coalition official said 66 "enemy targets" were apprehended in the raids.

Task Force All American soldiers in the Al Anbar region captured several guerrilla suspects and seized "improvised explosive device-making materials, Fedayeen propaganda, two protective masks, and improvised mortar-making materials," U.S. Central Command said.

They also secured an area northwest of Iskandariyah late Wednesday where there was a report of a mass grave.

As they target the insurgents, the violence against U.S. soldiers continues.

In the latest bloodshed, an American soldier with the Army's 1st Armored Division was killed Wednesday by an improvised explosive device during an operation in north-central Baghdad, a U.S. military spokesman said. Earlier Wednesday, three U.S. soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb that hit a military convoy near Samarra.

Since the war in Iraq started last March, 469 U.S. troops have died -- 321 under hostile circumstances.


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