Skip to main content
Home World U.S. Weather Business Sports Analysis Politics Law Tech Science Health Entertainment Offbeat Travel Education Specials Autos I-Reports
WORLD header
Iraq Transition

16 'directly related' to U.S. troops' capture held

Story Highlights

Eight U.S. troop deaths reported
• Civilian body count on the rise
• Hunt continues for two missing soldiers; more suspects detained
• Search of closed fish farms turns up weapons, explosives
Adjust font size:
Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. and Iraqi troops have detained 16 people they say are "directly related to the attack" on May 12 in which three U.S. soldiers were apparently captured, a U.S. military official said.

The three men disappeared after insurgents attacked a U.S. military observation post in the Mahmoudiya area, in a stretch known as the Triangle of Death.

Four American soldiers and an Iraqi soldier were found dead at the scene of the ambush.

The body of one of the three missing soldiers was found floating in the Euphrates River on Wednesday.

An intense search continues near the river for the other two men, Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Michigan. (Watch how the relentless search has left little time to grieve Video)

Troops have detained scores of people during the two-week hunt, and have released all but 100, who remain in U.S. and Iraqi custody.

On Friday, hundreds of soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment Stryker Battalion searched fish farms in a swampy area 11 miles south of Yusufiya, the military said.

They found 14 weapons caches and 3,000 pounds of explosives and ammunition, much of it buried in 55-gallon drums, the military said. The fish farms were not operational. Two main canals feed into the area.

Elements of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment and Iraqi soldiers searched along the Euphrates River on Friday, two miles south of where the attack took place, the military said.

The location may have been a crossing point to transport the missing soldiers from one side of the river to the other, the military said.

'Suspected terrorist cell leader' captured

Iraqi and coalition forces killed five suspected terrorists in raids in Baghdad on Saturday and detained a "suspected terrorist cell leader" who is linked to Iran's weapons and training network, the U.S. military said.

The capital's Sadr City was raided after radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr made his first public appearance in four months on Friday, leading prayers at the mosque in the Shiite holy city of Kufa.

Sadr City, a densely populated Shiite neighborhood, is a stronghold of his Mehdi Army militia.

The person arrested Saturday, according to the U.S. military, was a suspected leader of a terrorist cell "known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training."

After the arrest, coalition forces fought off nine carloads of terrorist suspects, killing five, the military said. Three civilians also were killed, Iraqi authorities said.

On Friday, the U.S. military said coalition and Iraqi forces arrested a person closely linked to the suspected leader of a terrorist cell during raids, also in Sadr City.

Both arrests involved suspects thought to have "direct ties to the leader of the EFP network as well as acting as a proxy for an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officer," the military said.

The U.S. military has been saying for months that Iraqi militants are being trained in Iran and are getting the EFPs from Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Quds force. However, there has not been proof that the Iranian leadership officially sanctions the transport of the explosives.

Daily body count on the rise

The number of slain unidentified bodies found dumped in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq appears to be on the rise -- a sign that this grisly symbol of sectarian strife remains a tough challenge for the capital's highly touted security crackdown.

There have been 586 corpses found in Baghdad this month, more than the 585 for the entire country in April, according to the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

The May toll includes 19 bodies found Saturday in different parts of Baghdad. Bodies also have been discovered in other cities.

Most of the victims have been shot, tortured and/or bound.

The killings have been a fact of life since the February 2006 bombing in Samarra of a Shiite mosque sparked Sunni-Shiite violence.

After the Baghdad security crackdown began in February, U.S. military officials said they had seen signs of a dip in the killings. But they recently said there had been an apparent slight increase.

Authorities across the country found 682 bodies in February and 673 in March.

Eight U.S. troop deaths reported

The U.S. military on Saturday announced the deaths of eight U.S. troops: Five died earlier in the day; one died Friday and two were killed Wednesday.

• Three Task Force Lightning soldiers died following an explosion near their unit's patrol in Salaheddin province. Two soldiers were wounded.

• One Multi-National Force-Baghdad soldier was killed and two were wounded by a roadside bomb. An Iraqi interpreter also was wounded.

• One Marine assigned to Multi-National Force-West died in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, while conducting combat operations.

• One Multi-National Corps Iraq soldier died and three were wounded in an attack near Taji. The military previously announced the deaths of three other soldiers who died Friday.

• Two soldiers were killed and three wounded on Wednesday when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol, east of Baghdad.

Since the start of the war, 3,445 U.S. military personnel and seven military contract employees have died in Iraq. The total for May is 101.

Other developments

  • A Senate Intelligence Committee investigation report released Friday says before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, U.S. intelligence predicted many of the challenges there. Those predicted -- and realized -- problems included an increase in al Qaeda operations, sectarian violence within Iraq and Iran's efforts to shape Iraq's future after the ouster of Saddam Hussein. (Full story)
  • A parked car bomb, followed by three mortar rounds, ripped through an industrial area in southwestern Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least five civilians and wounding 20 others, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official told CNN.
  • At least two civilians were killed and six were wounded when four mortars hit a residential area in Baya'a in southwestern Baghdad late Saturday afternoon, the Interior Ministry official said.
  • U.S.-led coalition forces killed two "terrorists" and arrested 23 suspected insurgents during a series of raids targeting al Qaeda in Iraq on Saturday, the U.S. military said.
  • CNN's Arwa Damon, Jomana Karadsheh and Paula Hancocks contributed to this report.

    Follow Related Topics

    Search TopicE-mail Alerts


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


    Quick Job Search
      More Options
    International Edition
    CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise with Us About Us Contact Us
    © 2007 Cable News Network.
    A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
    Terms under which this service is provided to you.
    Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
    SERVICES » E-mails RSSRSS Feed PodcastsRadio News Icon CNNtoGo CNN Pipeline
    Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
    Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more