Coalition soldiers fought suspected insurgents near a Syrian border town in a battle that killed 12 militants, injured a six-year-old girl and wounded six coalition soldiers, the US military said today.
The fighting, which included a US air strike, occurred on Monday around the town of Qaim, when the coalition forces tracked down and confronted a small group of suspected members of the terrorist group al-Qaida in Iraq, the military said.
The group is led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraq’s most wanted man. He has declared his allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network and is tied to many bombings and kidnappings since the US-led invasion removed Saddam Hussein from power two years ago.
Monday’s battle occurred after coalition forces searching an area of suspected insurgents followed a truck to an isolated tent and shed east of Qaim, the US military said in a statement.
There, men from the truck and from inside the tent and shed loaded materials onto the vehicle, the military said.
When it began to drive off, coalition forces stopped the truck, and the suspected insurgents – armed with assault rifles and hand grenades – opened fire, the statement said.
In the battle that followed, nine adult male insurgents were killed and one wounded, and the six-year-old girl received injuries to her head and her leg, the military said.
A US air strike then began, killing three other insurgents and destroying the tent and shed, the statement said.
Six coalition soldiers were wounded in the battle and all were taken to a nearby US military medical facility, where they were in stable condition, the statement said. It also said the girl’s injuries were not severe.
Searching the site of the battle, coalition forces found false identification cards, foreign currency and other evidence of direct ties with Zarqawi’s terrorist group and other insurgent groups based outside Iraq, the military said.
It provided no other details, including which countries the coalition forces or the insurgents were from.