Three Japanese who were taken hostage in Iraq last week have been released, apparently unharmed, just a day after an Italian hostage was executed. Joyful relatives of the three Japanese civilians watched the news from Baghdad that their loved ones are free.
The three had been threatened with death by gunmen demanding Japan withdraw its 500 troops from Iraq, a demand Tokyo rejected.
But civilians from other countries continue to be held. Wednesday, one of four Italian security guards seized near Fallujah, earlier this week, was executed.
In Baghdad, the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Richard Myers, announced more U.S. troops would soon be on duty in Iraq, in response to a request from regional commanders.
"General Abizaid and General Sanchez have asked for more capability given the current situation here in Iraq and that capability will, as in the past, be provided to our commanders in the field," he said.
The U.S.-led military coalition is dealing with a Shiite rebellion in southern Iraq and battles with Sunni militias in towns west of Baghdad.
The fighting has claimed more American lives this month than at any time since major combat operations in Iraq were declared over a year ago.