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U.S. Troops Hold 2 Suspected Iraq Rebels

U.S. Troops Hold 2 Suspected Iraq Rebels

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TIKRIT, Iraq (AP) -- Two suspected Iraqi resistance leaders accused of organizing and financing attacks against American soldiers in the vicinity of Saddam Hussein's birthplace were arrested Thursday in pre-dawn raids.

The arrests in Tikrit's affluent neighborhoods were part of an intensified campaign against people believed responsible for a series of deadly attacks against U.S. troops. The seizures came a day after U.S. forces killed nine Iraqis after coming under assault and ambush four times in the region.

The Iraqi deaths Wednesday amounted to the highest one-day toll in more than a month, the military said. No Americans were wounded.

Both raids in the narrow streets of downtown Tikrit took place at night. In one of the two, soldiers swept into a one-story home surrounded by a high wall and breached its front gate and door. Bradley fighting vehicles and an Apache attack helicopter quickly moved in to provide cover.

No one was injured in the raids and the suspects were not identified.

"Specifically these two individuals are associated with financing and leadership of the Fedayeen, of leading and organizing Fedayeen activities in the Tikrit area," said Maj. Bryan Luke of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment.

Raids and attacks have intensified throughout the Tikrit region in response to ambushes on American troops, including one last week that killed three U.S. soldiers.

The raids have resulted in dozens of arrests and follow-ups, with U.S. troops often conducting multiple operations within a 24-hour period.

Just a few hours earlier, on Wednesday, U.S. troops, backed by Tikrit's newly formed Civil Defense Force, raided a farm.

Although only one man was detained and later released and the weapons cache was small, said Maj. Mike Rauhut, the regiment's executive officer.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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