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Iraq Transition

Team working up new strategy for Iraq war

Story Highlights

• Petraeus, ambassador preparing new diplomatic, military strategy
• Strategy could involve negotiating with amenable Shiite extremists
Forces report finding Sunni "torture rooms" used against Sunnis
• Body found in river could be that of a missing U.S. soldier
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. military is joining forces with the State Department to prepare a new Iraq strategy that includes negotiating cease-fire and power-sharing agreements with some enemy combatants, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

A "joint campaign plan redesign team" is preparing the diplomatic and military strategy for Iraq, which is expected to be approved by the end of the month.

The team laying out the new course for how to proceed in the four-year-old war is led by Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, the officials told CNN.

One element of the plan is to try to identify groups of people -- possibly including Sunni extremists and militia groups -- with whom U.S. officials feel they can do business, such as negotiating power-sharing and cease-fire agreements and granting economic aid, the sources said. (Watch how the new strategy aims to create stability Video)

But those with whom officials feel they cannot do business -- such as determined suicide bombers -- will remain targets of military forces, the sources said.

The officials cited an inability to maintain current troop levels into the summer as a reason for the changed course.

"We have been focused too long on defeating the enemy," one official said. "We need to bring them to the negotiating table."

Little else is known about the new plan and it has drawn little reaction.

But the announcement apparently is an acknowledgment that the traditional war-fighting stance of trying to capture or kill all insurgents is failing, that the country may have devolved into a civil war, and that the only way to proceed is to use military force sparingly and attempt to bring many insurgents into the fold.

'Torture rooms' found

Coalition forces in Iraq have recently uncovered what they call "torture rooms" operated by Sunnis on Sunnis in Anbar province, a military commander said Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell in an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room" and in an earlier press briefing, said 17 kidnapped Iraqis had been found in two hideouts.

He said one of the tortured people was a 13-year-old boy, who "literally had been tortured, electrocuted, whipped, beat by these al Qaeda terrorists." He said freed people told troops that one or two captives had died during the torture sessions, and the remaining captives expected to be ransomed off to their families, with the funds going to support the al Qaeda insurgency.

"This is the nature of the enemy that the Iraqi people are facing here in Iraq," Caldwell said.

Two locations northeast of Karma were found over just the last couple of days, he said. Troops had been conducting "focused operations" in the area.

Those operations stemmed from information uncovered at another location during a raid about two weeks ago, he said. At that location, troops found no captives, but recovered a laptop computer containing an apparent al Qaeda manual on how to torture victims.

The manual, illustrated by graphic drawings, shows how to use drills to torture people, sever hands, drag people behind vehicles, use a blowtorch or clothes iron on skin, remove eyes and electrocute people, among other tactics.

"They made it in a cartoon manner, so that no matter what your literacy rate, what nationality you are, all you've got to do is look at these pictures to understand how to conduct tortures of innocent people," Caldwell said on CNN's "The Situation Room."

The manual was recently declassified and was made available to CNN Wednesday.

Anbar is a largely Sunni territory. Anti-al Qaeda forces have been emerging there.

Other developments

  • A corpse found floating in the Euphrates River south of Mahmoudiya on Wednesday may have to be shipped to the United States to determine if it is the body of one of three missing U.S. soldiers, according to a U.S. military official. Iraqi and U.S. officials said the body was wearing U.S. military trousers. (Watch Iraqis gather near the river where the body was found Video)
  • U.S.-led coalition forces on Wednesday killed eight alleged militants -- six in raids targeting senior leaders of an al Qaeda suicide attack cell and two others in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood -- and detained 42, according to the U.S. military. (Watch aftermath of Sadr City raid Video)
  • A suicide bomber detonated explosives Wednesday in a cafe in a Shiite Kurdish town near the Iranian border, killing at least 22 people and wounding 40 others, an Iraq Interior Ministry official said. A car bomb also exploded Wednesday in an outdoor market south of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 15, police in Hilla said.
  • A mortar round landed in an eastern Baghdad neighborhood Wednesday, killing one person and wounding five, police said. Meanwhile, Iraqi soldiers and gunmen exchanged fire Wednesday in Baghdad's Sinak commercial district, a 30-minute clash that left four people dead and 18 wounded.
  • At least nine U.S. service members were killed in combat and by bombs across Iraq on Monday and Tuesday and six were wounded, the U.S. military said Wednesday. During May, 81 U.S. military personnel have died, bringing the total since the war began to 3,432, including seven civilian employees of the Defense Department.
  • Caldwell, the U.S. military spokesman, said Wednesday that "very credible intelligence now confirms" that Iranian intelligence agents are funding Sunni extremist elements in Iraq. Such backing is significant because Iran is a Shiite nation and has been supportive of Iraqi Shiites, who have been locked in sectarian war with Iraqi Sunnis.
  • CNN's Barbara Starr, Arwa Damon and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

    Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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