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15 U.S. soldiers killed since Friday in Iraq

Story Highlights

NEW: Terrorist ringleader killed, U.S. military says
Eight U.S. soldiers and an interpreter killed by roadside bombs Saturday
• Canal drained in search for three missing U.S. soldiers, no clues found
• President Talibani heads to United States for health checks
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military added on Sunday more U.S. soldiers to the list of those who died in attacks on Saturday, bringing the number of American soldiers killed since Friday to 15.

Also on Sunday, as part of its search for three missing American soldiers, the U.S. military said troops drained a canal after receiving a tip from local Shiite Iraqis that bodies had been dumped in the area. No clues of any interest were found.

The three soldiers disappeared on May 12 after an attack in which four U.S. troops and one Iraqi soldier were killed. (Watch the canal that was drained in the U.S. search for missing troops Video)

Of the 15 U.S. soldiers who died since Friday, eight were killed Saturday in roadside bomb attacks.

One was killed near Diwaniya shortly after midnight. Six U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter died in an attack in western Baghdad.

South of Baghdad, a bomb killed a U.S. soldier and wounded three others. Two Iraqi soldiers were also wounded in that Saturday attack.

The canal drained on Sunday led from the Euphrates River to Janabi -- a former village that was once a Sunni insurgent stronghold -- about 7 miles from the site where the soldiers went missing after a May 12 ambush.

Four soldiers and an Iraqi soldier were killed in the ambush, which targeted a U.S. military observation post just outside Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad, in an area known as the Triangle of Death.

The military has said it would not leave a fallen comrade behind and have been conducting searches for the three soldiers round the clock.

As the canal was drained, soldiers fished out what they thought were possible leads, military officials told CNN. But they found only a sand bag thought to be a body, old rusted shell castings and a shoe that looked like an upside-down military boot.

On Saturday, the military had dug up a grave after seeing footage from an unmanned aerial vehicle showing people burying a body. The body turned out to be an Iraqi woman. (Watch what troops are learning in their search for their missing comrades Video)

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, told the Army Times in an interview Friday that he believed at least two of the soldiers are still alive.

"As of this morning, we thought there were at least two that were probably still alive," he said. "At one point in time, there was a sense that one of them might have died, but again, we just don't know." (Full story)

Petraeus also said he believes he knows who abducted the soldiers.

"We know who that guy is," he told the Army Times. "He's sort of an affiliate of al Qaeda ... He's the big player down in that area. We've tangled with him before." (Interactive: Details about ambushed soldiers)

U.S.-led coalition forces raided a building west of the capital near Falluja on Saturday and detained nine people suspected of involvement in the soldiers' abductions, a military statement said.

Suicide blast

A suicide truck bomber exploded his vehicle Sunday near an Iraqi police checkpoint outside Ramadi, killing two police officers and wounding 11 others, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

Police said they suspect chlorine gas was used in the attack.

The attack happened around 10 a.m. (2 a.m. ET) in Zangora district about six miles (10 kilometers) west of Ramadi.

A U.S. Army spokesman confirmed that a car bomb detonated near an Iraqi police station outside Ramadi, but gave a lower casualty toll. The spokesman said one Iraqi police officer was killed and three other police were wounded. No civilians were among the casualties and there were no reports of chlorine being used in the attack, the spokesman said.

In Baghdad, a car bomb detonated Sunday at a gas station in central Baghdad near the entrance to the Interior Ministry, killing an Iraqi civilian and wounding five others, a ministry official said.

It was unclear if the attack in Bab al-Sharqi was a suicide car bomb or a parked car bomb.

In the northeast Baghdad neighborhood of Ur, a parked car bomb detonated at about 1:45 p.m. Sunday, wounding at least five civilians, the official said.

Around 6 p.m., a car bomb targeting an Iraq army patrol in western Baghdad detonated, wounding four people, including two Iraqi soldiers, police said.

In an ongoing sign of the bloody sectarian fighting in the capital, 24 unidentified bodies were dumped across Baghdad on Sunday, an Interior Ministry official said. This brings the number of dead bodies found dumped in Baghdad this month to 438.

Also Sunday, north of the Iraqi capital, police found seven bullet-riddled bodies near Samarra, a police official said. The bodies could not immediately be identified.

Talibani heads to U.S.

Months after he fell ill and was taken to Jordan for treatment, Iraq's President Jalal Talabani left Iraq on Sunday for the United States for a medical check-up and to lose weight, according to a statement from his office.

There were no details about which U.S. city or medical center Talabani would receive treatment.

Talabani is the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two main parties that controls Iraqi Kurdistan. He was accompanied on his trip by the vice president of Iraq's Kurdish region, Kossrat Rassol Ali.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Talabani announced his intention to head to the United States soon for "full medical tests and in order to lose weight."

He said his only health problem was his overweight condition.

Other developments

  • U.S. forces killed a man identified as the ringleader of a January 20 attack on U.S. forces in Karbala, military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said. Sheikh Azhar al-Dulaymi was killed Saturday in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, according to an unclassified U.S. military presentation obtained by CNN, but Caldwell said the death occurred Friday. In the January attack, armed insurgents "disguised as American soldiers" raided a military compound in Karbala, killing a U.S. soldier and kidnapping four others, who were later slain, Caldwell said. (Watch how details differ on the Karbala attack Video)
  • CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq, Hugh Riminton and Arwa Damon contributed to this report



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