Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has denounced Sunday's deadly raid by the U.S. military in southern Iraq, and has demanded that U.S. forces hand over to Iraqi courts those who were responsible.

Mr. Maliki called the pre-dawn raid that killed two people in the town of Kut a crime that violated the U.S.-Iraqi security deal.
The U.S. military denied that it overstepped its bounds and said the operations was fully coordinated and approved by the Iraqi government.

A military statement said the raid targeted a house belonging to a "special group" of fighters.  During the operation, U.S. troops killed a man suspected of supplying weapons to insurgents, as well as a woman in the crossfire.  They also arrested six suspects.

Iraq's Defense Ministry spokesman, Mohammed al-Askari, said two Iraqi army commanders were detained for permitting American troops to carry out a military operation without the knowledge of the ministry or the government.

Hundreds of Iraqis protested the raid in Kut and the provincial governor condemned the military operation.

Under the U.S.-Iraqi security deal, U.S. troops in Iraq are no longer allowed to conduct military operations without Iraqi approval.  The security pact also calls for U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Iraqi cities and towns by June 30, and to completely withdraw from the country by the end of 2011.

The withdrawal is conditional on whether Iraqi forces have assumed full security responsibilities.

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