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US Military Releases 9 Iranians Detained in Iraq

The U.S. military says it has released nine Iranians from U.S. custody in Iraq.

A military statement said the nine were handed over to the Iraqi government Friday. Earlier this week, the U.S. military said the Iranians would be freed, because they pose no further threat to Iraqi security.

Those released include two who were in a group of Iranians detained in a raid in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil in January on suspicion of helping Shi'ite militias in Iraq.

At that time, the United States accused them of being members of Iran's Quds Force, which is an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Iran said they were diplomats and had demanded their release.

In other news, the U.S. military says Iraqi and U.S. forces have killed 14 suspected insurgents and captured 44 suspects in raids over the past two days in northern Iraq.

Separately, the military says two suspected militants were killed during a raid south of Samarra against al-Qaida in Iraq. It says the operation took place Thursday.

A military statement released Friday says one of those killed in that raid was believed to have been an al-Qaida in Iraq leader based in the Salahuddin province.

The statement says the man was suspected of bomb making, kidnapping and plotting attacks against coalition forces.

During the raid, a coalition helicopter was forced to make a "hard landing." An investigation is under way to determine what forced that landing.

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