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6 Soldiers Killed as 2007 Becomes Deadliest Year in Iraq for US Military

The U.S. military has announced the deaths of five soldiers and one sailor in Iraq, making 2007 the deadliest year for the U.S. military in Iraq since the war started in 2003.

The deaths happened Monday. More than 850 U.S. military personnel have died in Iraq this year.

The U.S. military says four of the soldiers were killed in an explosion near their vehicle in Kirkuk, while the fifth solider died in combat operations in al Anbar. The sailor died from injuries sustained in an explosion in Salah ad Din province.

In other news, the U.S. military says it soon will release nine Iranians detained in Iraq who pose no further threat to Iraqi security. A military spokesman, Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, said Tuesday two of those being released were detained in Irbil in January, while the others were taken into custody at various other times.

Also, Iran opened a consulate in Irbil Tuesday, in the building that U.S. forces raided in January.

In other developments, the U.S. military says Iraqi and coalition forces discovered a mass grave Saturday with 22 bodies in the Lake Thar Thar region. The military says officials are trying to determine the identities and causes of death, so that their families can be notified.

Also, the U.S. military says coalition forces killed eight terrorists and detained 10 suspects in operations Tuesday to disrupt terrorist networks in central and northern Iraq. It also announced that an Iraqi-led joint raid last week in Tikrit netted 39 suspects and led to the discovery of a torture cell, a mobile hospital, vehicle-borne bombs, rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and a Katyusha rocket.

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