US soldiers and warplanes on Saturday killed 20 insurgents suspected of sheltering foreign al-Qaida in Iraq militants near the Syrian border and destroyed five of their "safe houses," the US military said.
The military announced the deaths of two US service members, bringing to 1,994 the total who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
One of the latest dead was a Marine killed by an explosion near the western town of Haqlaniyah on Friday, the final day of Operation River Gate, an offensive that began Oct. 4 in several towns in that area with 2,500 US forces and several hundred Iraqi troops.
After the blast went off, other Marines clashed with insurgents, killing four and destroying a nearby bunker with an unknown number of gunmen inside, the military said.
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