Video: Casualties rise in Iraq

updated 10/8/2006 7:52:16 PM ET 2006-10-08T23:52:16

U.S. and Iraqi troops killed 20 suspected Shiite militiamen late on Saturday in the southern Iraqi city of Diwaniya in heavy clashes that police said went on into Sunday.

The U.S. military said the militants were killed after their forces had responded to an attack with rocket-propelled grenades as they entered the Shiite city to carry out “combat operations” on Saturday.

U.S. troops have maintained a large presence in the area since a battle in late August in which Shiite militiamen killed at least 20 soldiers.

Police said the clashes were between militiamen loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and U.S. forces. An official in al-Sadr’s office said the United States broke a previous agreement by entering the city and hinted they were not involved in clashes.

“U.S. forces broke the agreement we agreed ... that they do not enter the center of the city and gunmen clashed with them. Muqtada al-Sadr has prevented us from fighting the Americans in Diwaniya,” he told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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