Fighting wakes Baghdad

24 December 2003
Fighting erupted in Baghdad early on 24 December as US troops continued raids against insurgents operating in and around the capital. A US military spokesman in Baghdad said the fighting was part of operation Iron Justice, which aims to 'combat corruption - both to improve the quality of life for the Iraqi populace and to deny former regime elements illegal sources of income'. US officials said raids had been planned over the festive season because intelligence suggested that militants were likely to attack over the holiday period.

Hours before the Baghdad raids, US forces arrested five Iraqis in the town of Baqubah, including a close aide to Saddam Hussein's former deputy, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. A US military spokesperson said that the detainee, who was not named, was funding militant attacks in the 'Sunni Triangle'.

US troops also detained 26 Iraqi 'enemy personnel' late on 23 December in the town of Fallujah, west of Baghdad. Among those arrested are two former Iraqi generals and a former colonel in the Iraqi special forces, the US said.

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