U.S.-Iraqi troops backed by American warplanes battled al-Qaida-linked insurgents for more than five hours in clashes near Fallujah that killed eight and wounded five Iraqi policemen, the military said.
The fighting started Tuesday morning when Iraqi police in Amiriyah, some 25 miles west of Baghdad, came under mortar fire and Marine artillery units responded to the attack, forcing the insurgents to flee the scene, Marine spokesman 2nd Lt. Roger Hollenbeck said.
Local police then killed two al-Qaida fighters and wounded five in a gunbattle, Hollenbeck said in an e-mailed statement, adding that five policemen also were wounded.
Enemy fire continued throughout the afternoon until U.S. warplanes targeted about 20 insurgents with guided munitions and strafing fire, killing six of them and destroying their vehicles, he said.
Iraqi police Col. Tariq Yousif Mohammed said members of a tribal alliance that has been created to fight al-Qaida in the surrounding Anbar province joined the fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi, some 30 miles to the west.
Amiriyah is just to the east of Fallujah in the Anbar province, an insurgent stronghold that has seen some of the fiercest fighting of the U.S.-led war that began four years ago.
Suicide bombers driving trucks rigged with tanks of toxic chlorine gas struck targets in the area last week, sickening dozens of Iraqi civilians.
Iraqi police also detained 45 insurgents, confiscated propaganda material and discovered several weapons caches in house-to-house searches Tuesday in the provincial capital of Ramadi, the military said in a separate statement.
Insurgents using a roadside bomb during the 10-hour operation killed one civilian and wounded five, it said.