Under fire, U.S. moves into Najaf checkpoints
A U.S. soldier fires at insurgents in Najaf on Monday.
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CNN's Ben Wedeman on the U.S. military's reprimand of soldiers over the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
U.S. contractor Thomas Hamill, missing since last month in Iraq, escapes his captors.
Kellie Hamill, the contractor's wife, talks with CNN's Bob Franken.
NAJAF, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. troops moved to occupy checkpoints Monday throughout the restive southern Iraqi city of Najaf following a barrage of insurgents' mortar and small-arms fire, an American commander there said.
The U.S. base in Najaf came under almost steady attack from suspected members of the Mehdi Army -- the banned militia of radical Muslim Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Col. Brad May said the attack wasn't "all that intense," adding that his troops have done "a great job."
"What you're seeing is just the complex nature of the fight we're in right now," May said. "We're establishing checkpoints throughout the city that recently have been occupied by [al-Sadr's] militia as a demonstration of who's in charge now."
Despite May's characterization, the attacks were the most concentrated to hit U.S. forces since they moved into Najaf. The overnight firefight began with a barrage of mortar attacks and continued throughout the day.
Lt. Col. Pat White, commander of the base, said the attacks were "more than what we're used to."
Sunday night's mortar attacks followed the weekend killing of an al-Sadr deputy, along with four others, during a coalition raid on the cleric's offices in the central Iraqi town of Hillah.
Al-Sadr's militia last month launched an uprising against the U.S.-led coalition and its supporters in Baghdad's Sadr City and Iraq's southern cities.
The cleric, who is wanted for questioning in connection with the killing of a rival cleric last year, has holed up at holy sites in Najaf with many of his most vehement supporters.
U.S. forces reported no casualties in the Najaf fighting, but hospital officials said two civilians were killed and 11 others wounded.
Iraqis to patrol Fallujah
In Fallujah, the 1st Battalion of the Fallujah Brigade is a temporary force that a senior U.S. military official said will be dissolved after it completes its task -- to bring about an "Iraqi solution" to the insurgency in the city.
"By no measure do we think the Fallujah campaign is over," the official said. "We haven't achieved our objectives yet."
He said patrols by the 1st Battalion would likely begin "in the next couple of days."
After its operation is complete, the official said, the battalion members will be allowed to join the Iraqi police or the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.
Pending approval by U.S. officials, Gen. Mohammed Abdul Latif, a former intelligence official who was trained in Great Britain, has been designated to lead the Iraqi battalion.
His appointment follows reports that a former senior officer in Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard would head the battalion, which outraged victims of Saddam's regime.
But the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said that Iraqi Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh "will not be their leader."
"He will not be the head. He may have a role to play, but that vetting has yet to take place," Gen. Richard Myers said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."
Elsewhere in Iraq, combat claimed six more American lives Monday.
Four soldiers from the Army's 1st Armored Division were killed when their Humvee rolled over during a combat patrol near Khalis. South of Baghdad, another soldier from the 1st Armored Division was shot and killed while guarding a weapons cache. A U.S. Marine died in western Iraq's al Anbar province, home to the flashpoint cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.
A total of 759 American troops have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion last March.
Other developmentsU.S. contractor Thomas Hamill, who escaped Sunday after three weeks of captivity by Iraqi insurgents, arrived Monday in Germany for medical treatment for a bullet wound to his arm, according to U.S. European Command. Full storyThe U.S. military reprimanded six American soldiers and admonished another in connection with alleged abuse at Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad, a senior U.S. military official said Monday. (Full story)U.S. troops Monday killed two Iraqis as they were planting a roadside bomb in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul, a U.S. military spokesman said. U.S. forces opened fire on the pair, and the bomb exploded during the exchange of gunfire, according to Sgt. Joseph Sanchez. U.S. convoys are often the targets of roadside bombs.
CNN's Jane Arraf contributed to this report.