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U.S.: Ramadi battle kills 100-plus insurgents

Iraq president eyes deal for armed groups to join political process

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. and Iraqi troops killed more than 100 insurgents last week in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, a U.S. Army officer said Monday.

Two Iraqis also died in the fighting, said Col. John Gronski, commander of the U.S. Army's 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 28th Infantry Division. No Americans were killed.

Gronski said Iraqi forces "are doing very well" in the battle against insurgents in the volatile Anbar province city.

"The Iraqi army is conducting aggressive operations here based on human intelligence from the people of Ramadi themselves," he said.

Gronski said the Iraqi soldiers' improved capability has bolstered the morale of U.S. troops working with them.

U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi forces are trying to shut down insurgent supply routes into the area, setting up checkpoints and sometimes closing streets, he said.

Gronski said an airstrike was called Sunday after coalition forces noticed insurgents removing weapons from a train station in the southeastern part of the city.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to reach out to insurgents, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said he has been meeting with seven armed groups in hopes of agreeing a deal to include them in Iraq's political process.

None of these groups include people loyal to al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to a statement issued Sunday from Talabani's office.

"These groups who are holding talks with the president are those who believe in a prosperous Iraq. Their will to fight America has waned," said a spokesman in the president's office.

A source close to Talabani said the meetings have been under way for some time.

The groups are realizing that Americans are not their true enemy, the source said, and that they have been "fighting the wrong enemy."

"[These groups] are coming to the realization that one day the Americans will leave -- and that the most important thing is an Iraq that is free from Iranian influence," the source added.

The presidential statement said Talabani also has supported recent talks between U.S. officials in Iraq and armed groups.

Talabani said al-Zarqawi "has "announced genocide against the Iraqi people," according to the statement.

Blast wounds 8 police

Eight police commandos were wounded Monday in Samarra when their patrol passed by a roadside blast, Iraqi police said. Samarra is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

In Baghdad, four roadside bombs exploded in as many neighborhoods Monday, but injuries were limited to one, the city's police said. An Iraqi civilian was wounded when a roadside bomb detonated in the upscale Mansour area, police said.

Earlier Monday, an Iraqi was killed when a car bomb exploded in Iskandariyah, a town about 24 miles (40 kilometers) south of Baghdad, police in Hilla said.

More developments

  • Three years after President Bush declared major combat over in Iraq, Americans have strong doubts that the United States will fulfill the promise of his "Mission Accomplished" backdrop, a poll released Monday found. The CNN poll, conducted April 21-23 by Opinion Research Corp., found 44 percent said the United States would never accomplish its goals in Iraq, while 9 percent thought the U.S. mission in Iraq had been reached. Forty percent believed the mission would be complete someday. (Full story)
  • U.S. military investigators are reviewing photos indicating that Marines may have shot Iraqi civilians, including women and children, deliberately in November in the western Iraqi city of Haditha, according to a military source familiar with the investigation.
  • CNN's Cal Perry and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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