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Iraqi, US Officials Give Differing Accounts of Deadly Overnight Raid


Iraqi and U.S. officials are giving differing accounts of an overnight raid north of Baghdad that killed up to 20 people.

The U.S. military says coalition forces killed 20 suspected terrorists, including two women, during a ground and air operation in the Thar Thar area.

But a local official, the mayor of Ishaqi, says the raid killed at least 17 civilians, mainly women and children. He says two homes were leveled in the operation.

A U.S. military statement said ground forces called in air support when they came under heavy gunfire, and that a cache of weapons was confiscated during the raid.

In southern Iraq, British and Danish troops detained five suspected militia leaders in raids on the outskirts of Basra.

They said they confiscated a large cache of arms, including rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles.

The U.S. military also said three American soldiers died in two separate roadside bombings in Baghdad Thursday.

Meanwhile, a senior U.S. commander in Iraq says most American combat troops could be withdrawn by 2008 - if Iraqis move toward national reconciliation.

Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli told reporters at the Pentagon through a video link from Iraq that the U.S.-led coalition is winning militarily.

However, he acknowledged that progress has not been fast enough toward meeting strategic objectives.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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