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Iraq Transition

U.S. soldier dies in western Iraq

American forces fight insurgents near border with Syria

Snipers take position on a rooftop as troops sweep through Sa'da to root out insurgents in western Iraq.


• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide



BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A U.S. soldier has died from wounds suffered in an explosion in Iraq's vast Anbar province, the same region where U.S. troops have launched their latest offensive to drive out insurgents, the military said Monday.

The soldier was wounded Sunday in Ramadi, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) west of Baghdad, the military said.

Since the start of the Iraq war, 1,939 U.S. troops have died.

U.S. Marines and soldiers faced sporadic small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades as they entered Karabila on Sunday, part of the military's latest operation in Anbar province.

About 1,000 forces are trying to root out insurgents and enemy fighters in an area near the Syrian border, the military said.

Marine aircraft dropped 500-pound bombs and fired Hellfire missiles and 30 mm rounds at suspected insurgent positions.

Separately, seven civilians were wounded by a tank round.

Also, U.S. forces fired a .50-caliber machine gun at a suspicious vehicle, which blew up as if loaded with explosives.

Karabila has been the site of two previous missions -- Operation Matador in May and Operation Spear in June.

In the past, U.S.-led offensives in Anbar have lasted about a week, but insurgents have returned to towns after the troops left.

The city of Hit, however, still has a U.S. and Iraqi presence after coalition forces took control about two months ago.

The latest mission, dubbed Operation Iron Fist, was launched two weeks ahead of an October 15 national referendum on a new Iraqi constitution.

Oil minister survives attack

Iraqi Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahrululum survived a roadside bomb attack Monday on his convoy on the northern outskirts of Baghdad, police said.

Three of his bodyguards were killed in the attack.

In southeastern Baghdad, police found the bodies of three men who had been shot dead.

Also, gunmen killed the director-general of Iraq's Municipalities and Public Works Ministry on Sunday, an Iraqi police official said.

Safaa Muhammed was driving his car in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Mansour when passing gunmen opened fire.

Meanwhile, the brother of Iraq's interior minister was freed Sunday after a gunfight between his captors and members of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia, according to an al-Sadr official and an official with Baghdad's emergency police.

It's unclear who kidnapped Dr. Abdul Jabbar Solagh Jabr, brother of Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, on Saturday in Baghdad.

Al-Sadr is the Shiite cleric whose supporters battled U.S. troops for months last year in Najaf and Baghdad. Al-Sadr and the group later started participating in the country's political process.

Abbas al-Rubaie, an official with the cleric's office in Baghdad's Sadr City, said gunmen in a parked car opened fire Sunday on four militia members on a routine patrol.

After several minutes of gunfire, the abductors fled -- one of whom was wounded -- leaving Jabr inside the vehicle, al-Rubaie said.

Jabr, the head of al-Hakim hospital, was kidnapped Saturday while driving in eastern Baghdad, said a police official.

Jabr was stopped, pulled out of his car, put in another vehicle and driven away, the official said.

An Iraqi police official said Jabr usually travels in his car without bodyguards.

CNN's Arwa Damon, Jennifer Eccleston and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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