The identification cards of two soldiers missing since an attack on their unit May 12 were found in what the American military called an al-Qaida in Iraq safe house north of Baghdad, U.S. authorities reported Saturday.
The military statement said the ID cards of Spec. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Pvt. Byron Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Michigan, were discovered along with computers, video production equipment, rifles and ammunition at the otherwise empty house near Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad.
They were snatched in a raid on their 10th Mountain Division unit more than a month ago near Youssifiyah, 12 miles south of Baghdad.
The body of a third soldier who was taken in the raid, Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, California, was found floating Euphrates last month. Iraqi police said the body, wearing U.S. Army-issue pants and boots, had bullet wounds and bore signs of torture.
The Islamic State of Iraq, a front group for al-Qaida, claimed in a video tape posted on the Internet this month that all three missing soldiers were killed and buried.
The militants showed images of the military IDs Jimenez and Fouty but offered no proof that they were dead.
Four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi translator were killed in the daring ambush on the unit. At least two U.S. soldiers were killed in the intense and massive search for the missing men in the area around Youssifiyah.
Gen. David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, said the U.S. military has launched a large offensive operation in several al-Qaida strongholds around Baghdad that the group is using as bases for car bomb operations.
Petraeus, who met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates at a morning breakfast, also said that he knows he has all the troops he’s going to get.
“There’s never been a military commander in history who wouldn’t like to have more of something or other—that characterizes all of us here,” he told reporters traveling with Gates. “The fact is frankly that we have all that our country is going to provide us in terms of combat forces. That is really it right now.”