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Detainees held in ambush on U.S. soldiers

  • Story Highlights
  • Four captured in raid suspected of role in May attack
  • Four U.S. troops killed, three kidnapped in May ambush
  • 450 U.S., 150 Iraqi troops take part in Friday air assault
  • Raids also carried out Saturday in other locations
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Four people with possible ties to last May's ambush and kidnapping of American soldiers were captured southwest of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

An Iraqi family waits on the ground during a raid on their village Friday by U.S. and Iraqi troops.

Helicopters carried about 600 U.S. and Iraqi troops Friday to two Sunni villages -- Owesap and Betra -- 15 miles southwest of Baghdad to take on militants, Multi-National Division Center spokesman Lt. Col. Randy Martin said.

The four detainees are being questioned about "possible ties to the missing, captured soldiers," he said.

Martin said the military believes al Qaeda in Iraq has been staging attacks from the area and has links to the May 12 ambush near Mahmoudiya, which is south of Baghdad.

Four American soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were killed in the May attack, and three U.S. soldiers were kidnapped. The body of one was found later, and two other soldiers are still missing.

Friday's raid was intended to begin establishing a "sustained coalition presence" in the region, Martin said.

A military statement said U.S. soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, and 150 Iraqi soldiers were transported in four waves by two CH-47 Chinooks and eight UH-60 Black Hawks.

Marines and U.S. soldiers helped secure the landing zone and 70 "concerned local citizens" helped secure the outlying perimeter. Troops moved through villages and started building a bridge across the Euphrates River.

Before the air assault, U.S. F-16 fighter jets dropped two 2,000-pound bombs on a Euphrates island thought to be used by al Qaeda for staging attacks.

Other developments

  • U.S. troops in Iraq on Saturday targeted Sunni and Shiite militants, killing seven suspected insurgents and detaining at least 10 others across Iraq, the military said. Forces targeting al Qaeda in Iraq killed six and detained 10 during raids northeast of Samarra, in Baghdad, and southwest of Kirkuk, the military said. Troops also killed a suspected terrorist in a raid in the Rashidiya area north of Baghdad, the military said.
  • A mass grave with the remains of at least 35 people thought to be Shiites was discovered in a southern Baghdad Sunni district, Iraq's Interior Ministry told CNN. The Dora Sunni Awakening Council and Iraqi police discovered the remains at a farm in the Dora Sunni district in southern Baghdad on Friday. The official said that the local Iraqi police believe that the victims had died within the past three years.
  • A reporter for an Iraqi satellite television channel was kidnapped while on his way to work in central Baghdad Friday morning, according to an Iraqi journalists group. Muntadher al-Zaidi, 26, works for al-Baghdadiya, a Cairo-based channel that is often critical of the Iraqi government and the U.S. military in Iraq, according to the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, a non-governmental group that monitors attacks on media workers in Iraq. No demands were given or conditions for his release set, the journalists group said.
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