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Marine dies in Baghdad mosque raid

Marines enter a building during an April 8 raid on a compound in Iraq.
Marines enter a building during an April 8 raid on a compound in Iraq.

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•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- One U.S. Marine was killed and 22 others were wounded in fighting Thursday after Marines went to the Imam Mosque in north-central Baghdad where senior Iraqi leaders were believed to be meeting.

Iraqi and U.S. troops from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force exchanged gunfire for more than one hour before capturing a number of paramilitaries and seizing weapons and explosives, U.S. Central Command said.

None of the Iraqi leaders was captured at the 8th-century mosque, U.S. Central Command spokesman Capt. Frank Thorp told CNN's Tom Mintier.

Thorp said: "We had information that there was going to be a meeting in the north-central area of the city," he said.

The U.S. military earlier also had reports that President Saddam Hussein may have been hiding there, he added.

Elements of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force went to the mosque to determine what was going on and "came under fire from an area around the mosque," Thorp explained.

"Marines swiftly defeated the Iraqi fighters, captured 18 paramilitary and seized weapons and explosive caches," according to Central Command.

He described the mosque as being very large with a large wall around it.

"There was fierce fighting and we do have a small number of casualties in the area," Thorp said.

Marines went from the mosque to the Azamiyah Palace and then to the home of a Baath party leader in north-central Baghdad in pursuit of the Iraqi leaders, he said.

Thorp said coalition forces are continuing to identify and target the Iraqi leadership, regime meetings and command and control facilities.

"There are many fierce battles to follow," as U.S. forces attempt to gain control over the city, Thorp said.

"This isn't over," he warned. "It's not over until the regime is gone and until the people of Iraq are away from the grip of fear and torture they have."

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