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Iraq Transition

Five U.S. soldiers charged with abuse

U.S. Marines, Iraqi troops battle insurgents in western Iraq

Marines look over a rooftop at the source of enemy fire during Operation Steel Curtain in Husayba.


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• Interactive: Sectarian divide



BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Five U.S. soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment have been accused of beating detainees in Iraq, the U.S. military said Monday.

"The allegations stem from an incident on September 7 in which three detainees were allegedly punched and kicked by the soldiers as they were awaiting movement to a detention facility," according to a news release from the U.S. military.

The charges were filed November 5 after an investigation into the alleged abuse, the statement said.

The announcement came on a day when President Bush told reporters that the United States does not condone torture.

"Our country is at war and our government has the obligation to protect the American people," Bush said in Panama City, Panama. "There is an enemy that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again. So you bet we'll aggressively pursue them. But we will do so under the law." (Watch: Bush denies U.S. torture -- 1:46 )

Bush was responding to questions about reports of secret U.S. prisons in eastern Europe. The White House's opposition to a Senate measure banning torture has also faced criticism from some in the president's own Republican Party. (Full story)

Bombs kill 5 U.S. soldiers

Four U.S. soldiers were killed Monday when a suicide car bomber attacked their checkpoint south of Baghdad, the coalition press office said in a written statement.

The names of the dead -- part of Task Force Baghdad -- were being withheld pending notification of next of kin, and the incident is under investigation, the statement said.

The deaths bring to 2,052 the number of U.S. military who have been killed in the war.

Earlier Monday, the U.S. military said a roadside bomb killed a soldier with Task Force Band of Brothers near ad Dawr.

The military said two other soldiers and an Iraqi translator were wounded in the late Sunday attack and taken to a military hospital.

Also Monday, a suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into part of a U.S. military convoy in northern Mosul, setting off a blast that wounded six soldiers, a U.S. military spokesman said.

Offensive in third day

For a third day, U.S. forces and Iraqi troops battled insurgents house-to-house in Husayba, a town near the Syrian border, with Iraqi troops killing three insurgents dressed in women's clothing, a U.S. military spokesman said. (Map)

The push is the latest in a series of U.S.-led offensives in northwestern Iraq since spring. The country's sprawling Anbar province, which stretches from the outskirts of Baghdad to the Syrian and Jordanian borders, has been a major front in the war.

Unlike previous operations, however, an Iraqi garrison is expected to remain behind to prevent insurgents from working their way back into the city. (Watch: Troops hang 'Steel Curtain' -- 2:11 )

"What remains behind is a permanent Iraqi security force presence," said Brig. Gen. Donald Alston. "The Iraqi army is building permanent locations in these areas."

In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Iraqi troops were performing "exceedingly well" in the latest assault. Asked whether it would be more successful than previous pushes, he said, "We'll soon see. We'll know."

Capt. Conlin Carabine, a U.S. Marine company commander, said one Marine has died during the fighting, which began Saturday.

In addition, a U.S. Marines news release said at least 36 suspected enemy fighters have been killed in the assault, which is aimed at rooting out insurgents and stanching the influx of foreign fighters.

The military statement from a Marine spokesman in Ramadi said three of the insurgents who were killed were dressed as women and trying to pass a checkpoint into an area for displaced residents.

The body of a suspected enemy fighter was found Monday morning rigged with a grenade in a school, according to the news release.

About 3,000 U.S. troops and 550 Iraqis are taking part in the offensive.

U.S. aircraft also launched Hellfire missiles and dropped 500-pound bombs on homes believed to house insurgents.

Military officials said about half the buildings gave off secondary explosions, indicating ammunition was stored inside them.

The military also has bombed groups of suspected insurgents as they tried to set up strongholds and ambush positions.

Nine Marines have been wounded -- three each on Saturday, Sunday and Monday -- in the operation, one of the largest offensives in Iraq since the storming of Falluja last November.

U.S. commanders say Husayba has been taken over by insurgents and used as a command center for operations, including the smuggling of weapons and fighters into Iraq's population centers.

The operation comes in the largely Sunni Muslim region in advance of Iraq's parliamentary elections, set for December 15.

Other developments

  • An Iraqi army general, Hameed Shafeeq, was wounded Monday afternoon when gunmen attacked him as he was driving in an eastern Baghdad neighborhood.
  • Gunmen killed an inspector for Iraq's Oil Ministry on Monday, Baghdad police said. Zuhayr Hadi Azawi was gunned down in his car as he left the western Baghdad neighborhood of Tobchi.
  • An Iraqi journalist with the newspaper Talla'far al-Yawm -- Tal Afar Today -- Ahmed Hussein Maliki, was shot and killed Monday at an Internet cafe in the city center of Mosul, said Sa'eed Ahmed Jiboori of the city's police press office.
  • An Iraqi soldier was killed and 12 others were wounded Monday when a suicide car bomber struck an Iraqi Army battalion responsible for securing oil pipelines and refineries near al-Rafza village, about 28 miles (45 kilometers) southeast of Kirkuk, Kirkuk's police chief said.
  • Five Iraqi civilians were killed and another six were wounded when a mortar round landed in the eastern Baghdad residential neighborhood of Mustansiriya around 4 p.m., police said.
  • Two Iraqi police officers were killed and another two were wounded when a makeshift bomb exploded as they patrolled in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dora around 4:30 p.m., according to police.
  • CNN's Arwa Damon and Enes Dulami contributed to this report.

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