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New Iraqi Fallujah Force to Hunt Insurgents, US General Says - 2004-05-01

The commander of U.S. Marines surrounding the Iraqi city of Fallujah says a new Iraqi force being deployed in the city will try to kill or capture insurgents who have been battling U.S. forces.

Speaking to reporters Saturday, General James Conway said most of the 1100 fighters who make up the new force served in Saddam Hussein's army, and that some may have fought Marines who have kept Fallujah under siege for nearly a month.

But he said the group's commander, former Iraqi general Jasim Mohammed Saleh, has explained the need to contain the insurgents to his officers.

General Conway says he expects General Saleh's men to provide security when a U.S. military convoy comes through Fallujah in a few days.

The Marines began a crackdown in Fallujah after four Americans were killed in the city and their bodies publicly mutilated. The military is still insisting those responsible for the deaths be handed over.

Marines have been pulling back from some positions around Fallujah to allow the new Iraqi force to enter the city. U.S. General Mark Kimmitt insists that the Marines are repositioning, not withdrawing.

Elsewhere in Iraq, attacks have killed two more U.S. soldiers and two U.S. sailors.

The military says the two soldiers died in separate roadside bomb explosions that targeted convoys in northern Iraq, south of Mosul.

The first attack late Friday wounded two soldiers, one of whom died of his injuries Saturday. In the second bombing, one soldier was killed and two others wounded.

The military says the two U.S. sailors were killed Friday in fighting with anti-coalition forces in the central Iraqi province of Al Anbar. No details were given on the Al Anbar fighting, but the Navy often provides U.S. Marines with logistical and medical support.