The U.S. military says it is investigating the deaths of nine women and children in an area south of the Iraqi capital, where U.S. forces had been conducting ground and air operations.

A statement says five women and four children were killed Tuesday evening in a village, Babahani, west of the town of Musayyib. It says structures in the area have been used as safe houses for al-Qaida in Iraq. Local police officers told the Associated Press the victims were in a house that was attacked by U.S. jets.

Musayyib, about 60 kilometers south of Baghdad, is in an area dubbed the "triangle of death" because of frequent attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces.

Meanwhile, Iraq's most respected Shi'ite cleric has met with the country's Sunni vice president for the first time to discuss an initiative aimed at uniting Iraq's political leaders.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi held talks Thursday in the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf.

Hashemi recently released a 25-point plan, the Iraqi National Compact, aimed at improving reconciliation efforts between Iraq's political factions.

In Baghdad Thursday, Iraqi authorities say a car bomb blast in the eastern part of the capital killed at least one person and wounded two others.

The U.S. military says coalition forces killed one terrorist and detained two suspects in an early morning operation in the Iraqi capital. Separately, the military says it detained 27 terrorist suspects in operations across Iraq.

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