The U.S. military in Iraq says three coalition soldiers have been killed in Iraq in separate incidents in the past 24 hours.
Officials say one soldier was killed and four others injured when their patrol was attacked by an explosive and small arms fire near Ashraf. And two American soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad.
The casualties Wednesday came as U.S. officials announced troops had killed two members of al-Qaida in Iraq during separate operations.
The security situation in Iraq was cited by defense lawyers for Saddam Hussein, who demanded bodyguards and other security measures following the kidnapping and murder of a lawyer representing one of Saddam's co-defendants.
And in Washington, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, said military officials could begin reducing the size of American forces in Iraq next year.