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US, Iraqi Forces Clash with Shi'ite Militia in Baghdad


U.S. and Iraqi special forces clashed with suspected Shi'ite militiamen in western Baghdad Thursday. Residents say at least 14 people were killed.

The U.S. military says the fighting broke out when militiamen fired from rooftops at coalition troops conducting a pre-dawn raid against a suspected terrorist cell in the capital's al-Washash area.

The military says four buildings were damaged when coalition forces directed airstrikes at gunmen on rooftops.

The neighborhood is known to be a stronghold of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.

Elsewhere in Iraq, the military said coalition forces killed six people and detained 25 suspects during operations against al-Qaida in Iraq in the Tigris River Valley and Kirkuk Thursday.

The military also said coalition and Iraqi forces late Wednesday began a new operation - code named Operation Lightning Hammer II - to hunt down al-Qaida -linked terrorists in Ninewa province, north of Baghdad.

The military says a similar operation, Operation Lightning Hammer I, launched last month successfully drove the enemy out of the Diyala River Valley, northeast of Baquba.

On Wednesday, the U.S. military said eight American soldiers were killed in the past two days of fighting - six in Baghdad, and two in the northern province of Salahuddin.

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