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U.S. targets insurgents in Kufa

U.S. troops kill insurgents firing mortars in Kufa.

Bush compares war against terror to World War II.

Ahmed Chalabi reportedly told Iran that U.S. broke code.

• Reports: Chalabi tipped off Iran
• Special Report: U.S. deaths
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Unrest, Conflicts and War
Armed Conflict

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. troops on Thursday battled insurgents in Kufa suspected of firing dozens of mortars at a forward operating base outside of the city, U.S. military officials said.

Fifteen tanks carrying about 100 troops entered the city early Thursday to search for mortar positions that have been used to fire at the base.

About 30 insurgents were killed in the firefight at a Kufa school, the officials said.

Four U.S. forces sustained minor injuries in the firefight.

The U.S. forces also located insurgents using a Kufa mosque as a mortar base, but were unable to remove the mortar tube inside the mosque due to restrictions on firing near a holy site.

The U.S. base on the Kufa-Najaf road has been hit by at least 52 mortars in the past week.

Clashes between U.S. forces and the militia loyal to maverick Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Kufa erupted Wednesday in several Kufa neighborhoods, killing four Iraqis and wounding 35, according to hospital officials.

Al-Sadr's militia has vexed coalition forces in the Najaf area since al-Sadr launched a rebellion against the U.S. occupation in April.

The combat has been unabated since last Thursday, when al-Sadr proposed a truce that entailed the withdrawal of both coalition forces and the militia loyal to him.

The coalition rejected al-Sadr's proposal to pull out of Najaf, saying it would leave a "power vacuum." Coalition forces have, however, begun work with Iraqi police to get those officers on the streets in the holy city.

The coalition also insists that al-Sadr, who is wanted in connection with the death of a rival cleric in April 2003, turn himself in to face trial.

1 killed in mortar attack near Italian Embassy

Five mortars landed near the Italian Embassy in central Baghdad on Thursday, killing an Iraqi motorist and wounding four, including three children, police said.

The mortars landed on the roof and behind several shops that are next to the embassy in the Hay al Maghrib district, police said.

In the northern city of Mosul, an interpreter working for coalition forces was killed Wednesday when gunmen fired at her with machine guns as she was walking in the central part of the city near the university.

Five people were killed and 37 others wounded Wednesday when an explosion rocked the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Adhamiya, the Iraqi Ministry of Health said.

Later Wednesday, an ammunition dump on a U.S. air base near the northern oil city of Kirkuk caught fire after an unknown device exploded near it, a U.S. military official said. No injuries were reported.

Leading cleric okay's Iraq government

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most influential Shiite leader in Iraq, has given tacit approval to the country's interim government, an endorsement that provides great credibility to the caretaker body.

The position was issued in a statement released by the cleric's office in Najaf, and it comes a day after U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi urged Iraqi support for the newly formed interim government.

In another political development, Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's interim foreign minister, is to meet with the U.N. Security Council on Thursday to discuss the draft resolution on a future course of action in Iraq. (Full story)

Other developments

  • One-time U.S. ally and Iraqi émigré leader Ahmed Chalabi, through his attorneys late Wednesday, flatly denied telling an Iranian official that the United States had cracked the secret communications code used by Iranian intelligence. (Full story)
  • CIA Director George Tenet has resigned, citing personal reasons, President Bush announced Thursday. Tenet had faced criticism over pre-invasion estimates that Iraq was amassing stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, which now appear to have been incorrect. (Full story)
  • Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Thursday pledged that Australian troops would remain alongside U.S. forces in Iraq, saying it was the "worst time imaginable" for allies to reconsider their commitments. Australia has about 850 troops in Iraq. Howard made his comments at the White House after meeting with President Bush.
  • The Army will prevent soldiers in units set to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan from leaving the service at the end of their terms, a top general said Wednesday. (Full story)
  • The Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera showed video Wednesday of three Italian hostages taken captive in Iraq in April. In the video, one of the men said the captors were treating them "excellently." The three hostages were among four Italians taken captive in Iraq on April 12. The other hostage was executed by a gunshot to the head soon afterward -- a killing that was videotaped. The grisly tape was given to Al-Jazeera, but never aired. (Full story)
  • Another videotape aired on Arabic-language television networks and in Turkey claimed to show two truck drivers abducted in Iraq. Surrounded by armed masked people, the two identified themselves on the news footage as Bulent Yanik from Turkey and Victor Tawfik Gerges, an Egyptian. They said they worked transporting supplies from Kuwait to Iraq for the U.S. Army.
  • The body of a second Japanese journalist killed in Iraq in an insurgent attack has been identified, according to a government official. Shinsuke Hashida, 61, was traveling with his nephew Kotaro Ogawa, 33, in a vehicle along with a driver and a translator when they were attacked by unidentified assailants on May 27. (Full story)
  • President Bush on Wednesday compared the war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism to World War II and the battle against communism. (Full story)
  • CNN's Guy Raz contributed to this report.

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