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Iraq Transition

2 U.S. soldiers, 1 Marine killed in Iraq

Suspected insurgent roundup; National Assembly delayed

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Unrest, Conflicts and War

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Two U.S. soldiers were killed and two others were wounded when a car bomb exploded in southwestern Baghdad Saturday morning, a U.S. military statement said.

The Task Force Baghdad soldiers were on patrol around 8:30 a.m. (12:30 a.m. ET) when the car bomb detonated, the statement said.

Also, a U.S. Marine was killed in combat in the western province of Anbar on Friday, the U.S. military said.

Since the start of the war in March 2003, 1,527 U.S. forces have died in Iraq.

Also on Saturday, a political official said Iraq's transitional national assembly plans to convene Tuesday morning.

The 275-member transitional body was to meet this weekend, but the office of Barhim Salih, the interim deputy prime minister, said the assembly will meet Tuesday morning instead.

Suspected insurgents arrested

Iraqi and U.S. forces announced the arrests of more than 200 suspected insurgents in raids conducted Friday and Saturday.

Iraqi soldiers arrested about 130 suspects during raids Friday night in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, an Iraqi Defense Ministry official said Saturday.

With the coming Shiite holiday of Arba'een, forces have been on heightened alert. Officials said Iraqi soldiers from the 8th Division were assisted by multinational forces on the raids.

Soldiers confiscated tons of explosives, the spokesman said.

Karbala, which is south of Baghdad, was the site of one of the most deadly bombings during the war -- at least 85 people were killed on March 2, 2004, on the holy day of Ashura.

Iraqi and U.S. forces Saturday arrested dozens of insurgent suspects in a raid in the Jurf as Sakhr area -- a restive region 35 to 40 miles southwest of Baghdad, the Marines said in a statement.

The forces detained 72 people "suspected of possible insurgent activity," with 10 of them either on the brigade's or the Iraqi security forces "detain list."

Participating were Iraqi police officers, soldiers, and U.S. soldiers of the 155th Brigade Combat Team attached to the 1 Marine Expeditionary Force.

Government planning

Ahead of Tuesday's meeting of the transitional assembly, politicians from the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdish alliance, the most powerful coalitions in the assembly, have been negotiating over the makeup of the new government.

On January 30, voters elected the assembly, which will draft a new constitution and pick the country's next president and two vice presidents.

The constitution must be approved by voters in a referendum later this year .

After the constitution is ratified, national elections for a permanent government will be held. They are expected to be held later this year.

Other developments

  • Four Iraqi civilians and an Iraqi soldier died in two attacks Saturday in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, sources said. A roadside bombing killed the four civilians on a main road, medical and police sources said. The Iraqi soldier who died was in a car that was part of an Army convoy when he was shot by insurgents, an Army commander said.
  • U.S. troops believe they have thwarted a massive escape from one of the coalition's main prison camps in Iraq, Pentagon officials have said. A 600-foot-long (183-meter) escape tunnel with an exit point outside the prison camp walls was discovered Thursday at Camp Bucca in southeastern Iraq. (Full story)
  • Iraqi Gen. Mohammed Salman was shot dead Friday and his two sons were wounded in a drive-by shooting in southeast Baghdad, police in the capital said. The general, based in the southern city of Basra, and his sons were leaving a funeral when they were shot.
  • U.S. soldiers from Task Force Liberty killed three insurgents near Baquba, 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. No coalition forces were injured in the counterattack, the military said.
  • CNN's Kevin Flower, Zoran Stevanovic and Aneesh Raman contributed to this report.

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