Iraqi authorities say the bodies of 18 young Shi'ite men have been found near the northern city of Mosul, where they were headed to work at a U.S. military base.
Police say the men, who were all from Baghdad, were found bound and shot execution-style. Their bodies were discovered Wednesday, but police say the men were killed nearly a month ago.
Following a November U.S.-led offensive against insurgents in Fallujah, many fighters fled to Mosul. Violence there has escalated in recent weeks, with dozens of dead bodies turning up.
Also Thursday, a U.S. Marine was killed in western al-Anbar province.
Meanwhile, in Jordan, Iraq's neighbors are holding a conference that is expected to endorse the January 30 elections and urge Iraqis to defy boycott calls from some Sunni groups concerned about escalating violence.
Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.