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Iraqi, US Forces Kill Dozens of Militants in Central Baghdad


Iraqi government forces, backed by U.S. troops have exchanged heavy fire with militants in a Sunni area in the center of Baghdad. While officials said dozens of people died in the battle, a U.S. military spokesman says there were no deaths among U.S. security forces or forces of the Iraqi government. VOA's Jim Randle reports from northern Iraq.

Fierce fighting could be heard across much of Baghdad. The struggle started when Iraqi government forces entered an area of central Baghdad near Haifa Street, which is a Sunni stronghold.

The small group of troops was pinned down by insurgent gunfire and called for help from the Iraqi army and U.S. troops. Hundreds of reinforcements rushed to the scene.

The well-organized and well-prepared insurgent force used heavy gunfire, mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades as well as snipers in the fight.

On the other side, U.S. helicopters quickly joined the battle, firing guns and missiles at targets on the ground, and telling U.S. and Iraqi government forces where they saw insurgents.

In an unusual move, U.S. fighter jets circled overhead.

Continued fighting and sectarian bloodshed is one reason President Bush is planning to announce a new U.S. strategy for Iraq on Wednesday. It is expected that strategy will include sending more U.S. troops to Iraq and focusing American and Iraqi government forces on bringing calm to Baghdad.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki said his government will use all available resources to stop the militants.

Maliki pledged to use all political, economic, media, security and military resources to support a new drive to bring peace to the city.

Meanwhile, north of Baghdad, a plane crash reportedly killed dozens. The Turkish Foreign Ministry told journalists the aircraft was carrying Turkish workers.

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