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Coalition Troops Kill, Capture Iranian-Linked Militants in Baghdad

U.S. military officials in Iraq say coalition forces have killed several militants and captured 13 alleged Iranian-linked arms smugglers in a raid on Baghdad's Shi'ite Sadr City district.

A statement Monday said troops conducted the pre-dawn raid Sunday to capture or kill "weapons facilitators with connections to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps."

The statement said coalition forces also destroyed a truck during the raid, "killing an estimated three to five" suspected terrorists.

On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for a meeting of Iraqi political leaders to try to resolve divisions that have deadlocked the government.

He said the leaders of Iraq's sectarian factions could begin meeting late Monday or Tuesday.

The prime minister's coalition government has been plagued by ethnic and sectarian divisions that have blocked passage of key legislation.

The main Sunni Arab political bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front, pulled its ministers out of the Cabinet on August first.

The leader of the Accordance Front, Adnan al-Dulaimi, told the Associated Press Sunday that Shi'ite politicians allied with Iran could soon have total control of Iraq. The Sunni political leader says that would make the Shi'ite power bloc in Iran and Iraq a threat to other states in the Middle East led by Sunni Arabs.

In a statement sent by e-mail to AP, the Accordance Front's Adnan al-Dulaimi said Shi'ite Arab militias that are armed, trained and controlled by Iran are carrying out what he calls an "unprecedented genocide campaign" inside Iraq.

Iran denies allegations it supports insurgent groups in Iraq.

Mr. Maliki formed a unity government of Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions in 2006 to try to reduce Iraq's sectarian violence. But the government has been paralyzed by boycotts and infighting along ethnic and sectarian lines.

U.S. officials say achieving national political reconciliation and passing key legislation are essential for ending the country's insurgency.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.