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US toll crosses 700, Sadr lauds Spain

April 19, 2004 20:02 IST
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The number of American soldiers killed in Iraq crossed the 700 mark Sunday, when the US military added 11 more troops to the list, reports CNN.

The latest toll included five Marines killed ambushed Sunday by insurgents near Husaybah, close to the Syrian border,  three US soldiers killed Saturday in another ambush near the southern Iraqi town of Diwaniyah, and a marine killed in Abnar, west of Baghdad.  A soldier was killed when their tank rolled over in north Baghdad, while another died of wounds received Saturday in a roadside bombing, the network said.

Three Iraqi civilians and a member of radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army, were also killed, according to reports. 

A spokesman for Muqtada on Monday said the Mahdi army would stop attacks on Spanish troops following new Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's announcement that Spain would  withdraw its contingent from Iraq as soon as possible.

The Mahdi Army would "ensure the security of Spanish troops until their departure as long as these forces do not perpetrate aggressions against the Iraqi people.  Other countries which assign troops to the coalition in Iraq are urged to follow the example of Spain and to withdraw their forces to save the lives of their soldiers," said Muqtada's aide and spokesman Qays al-Khazali.

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