Three More US Marines Killed

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Three more US marines were killed in western Iraq on Monday, the US military confirmed yesterday.

All three, from the 2nd Marine Division, were taking part in Operation Steel Curtain near the Syrian border at the town of Ubaydi.

One Marine was killed by a roadside bomb and another was shot dead in the town, while a third US Marine died yesterday of wounds sustained during a bomb attack in Ubaydi on Monday.

The US military said fifty Iraqis were killed in fighting with US and Iraqi forces in the town.

Some 37 alleged insurgents were killed when US aircraft struck what they claimed were rebel positions earlier in the day.

Sunni organisations said they only had the Americans’ word on that, and many killed by US air strikes were civilians.

Meanwhile, in the northern oil city of Kirkuk, insurgents killed three puppet Iraqi policemen and wounded three others in a roadside bomb attack.

Another four policemen were killed when their patrol car was ambushed by resistance fighters just east of the city.

In eastern Baghdad, two policemen were killed and six were wounded when a car bomb exploded near a restaurant popular with security forces, an interior ministry official said.

A civilian passer-by was also hurt in the blast.

Meanwhile, the latest UN report on Iraq covering September and October says that the US forces in Iraq are detaining people faster than a new prisoner review board can look over their cases to determine whether their rights are being respected.

‘While progress in reviewing cases led to the release of hundreds, the overall number of detainees continued to increase due to mass arrests carried out during security and military operations,’ the UN mission said in its latest progress report on human rights.

The number of detainees now held by the US-led forces has climbed to 13,514, according to the latest Pentagon figures, up from about 6,000 in June and 9,600 in September.

Meanwhile, two former Iraqi detainees have alleged they were beaten, deprived of sleep and regular food, given electric shocks, shot with rubber bullets and threatened with mock executions at the hands of US soldiers.

Iraqis Thahee Sabbar and Sherzad Khalid told the US ABC television network that they were detained in July 2003, repeatedly abused and released several months later with no charges filed.

l Spain has said it will investigate claims that US Central Intelligence Agency planes carrying Muslim extremist suspects made secret stopovers in Majorca, on the way to torture centres.

Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said in Madrid yesterday that using Spanish airports for secret flights to transport terrorist suspects was ‘a serious and intolerable issue’, and could damage US-Spanish relations.