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Iraq Transition

Thirty-seven tips lead to raids, not to missing soldiers

Story Highlights

• Military acts on 37 of about 140 tips in search for missing men
• 12 killed in clashes between Mehdi Army, Iraqi officers
• Six suicide car bombs explode in Mosul
• Thousands of leaflets dropped in Iraq to advertise $200,000 reward
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military has conducted raids based on 37 tips but have failed to find three missing U.S. soldiers, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The tips were culled from "about 140 different, good tips that have come in so far," Maj. Gen. William Caldwell told CNN.

"Each one leads us to a little more information, so we're going to continue with that, pushing forward over these next few days," Caldwell said.

The U.S. military is offering a $200,000 reward for information about the location of the three soldiers or persons involved in their disappearance, a senior U.S. military official at the Pentagon said. (Watch what motivates soldiers scouring "Triangle of Death" Video)

The military is also dropping about 150,000 leaflets from helicopters in the region south of Baghdad where the soldiers disappeared Saturday after an ambush. The leaflets urge Iraqis to call a tip line with information and informing them of the reward money, the official said.

Four other U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi soldier were killed in the pre-dawn attack outside Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad.

"We're holding out hope. We're praying for the best, but, more importantly, we're continuing an intensive, massive search," Caldwell said.

He added that "all indications are that it's an al Qaeda or al Qaeda-affiliated group" that is responsible.

He said thousands of coalition and Iraqi troops were involved in the hunt. Earlier, the military spokesman told reporters that a U.S. soldier was wounded in the search.

Of more than 600 people questioned, 11 have been detained, he said.

Two of those in U.S. military custody have admitted being involved in the attack, said Lt. Col. Michael Infanti. They do not appear to be al Qaeda members but told interrogators they were paid by a middleman to take part in the attack, said Infanti, the commander of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment.

Caldwell said the area south of Baghdad has been divided into 35 zones, of which 32 have been searched.

"But those operations are ongoing and are by no means complete," Caldwell added.

He said evidence from the scene of the ambush indicates "there was a firefight, [but] we don't know the exact condition of our three missing men."

"We still presume the men are alive," he said. "We have no indications to reflect otherwise at this time."

The slain and missing U.S. soldiers are based at Fort Drum in New York, and all seven have been identified as members of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division's Second Brigade Combat Team. All of the soldiers are men.

The three killed are Pfc. Christopher E. Murphy, 21, of Gladys, Virginia; Pfc. Daniel W. Courneya, 19, of Vermontville, Michigan; and Sgt. 1st Class James D. Connell Jr., 40, of Lake City, Tennessee. The number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq now stands at 3,394, plus seven civilian contractors for the military. (Watch Courneya's mom describe his dream of being a soldier Video)

Four others -- three missing and one of the dead -- remain listed as "duty status whereabouts unknown."

The Department of Defense identified the four as Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, Nevada; Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts; Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, California; and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Michigan.

Because one body was badly burned, the military was performing a DNA test to determine which of the four was the dead soldier.

According to the Pentagon official, the quick-reaction force that responded to the ambush site found multiple trails of blood, indicating some of the soldiers' bodies had been dragged away.

One of the trails led them to a building about 50 meters from the ambush site, where they found one of the dead U.S. soldiers, the official said.

Caldwell said the division headquarters is "looking very carefully at the whole tactical situation to see if there's something they need to do better."

Raid sparks clashes

Iraqi security forces and Mehdi Army fighters clashed for a second day in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya on Wednesday, after an Iraqi military raid on a political office of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi officials told CNN.

At least 12 people were killed and dozens wounded in the clashes, which began Tuesday night and stopped Wednesday around 3 p.m. (7 a.m. ET), police and hospital officials said.

Two mortar rounds targeted the mayor's headquarters in Nasiriya, an official with the mayor's office told CNN.

A local al-Sadr political leader said that an Iraqi quick intervention force raided al-Sadr's political office in Nasiriya on Tuesday night and arrested two members. A short time later, clashes erupted and Iraqi police fired rocket-propelled grenades at the office building.

That attack killed five people and wounded 14 inside the office, which was then occupied by the forces, Abd al-Mahdi al-Motairi said.

The Iraqi forces refused to withdraw from the office despite a plea from Nasiriya's mayor and police chief, the aide said.

Al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia is blamed for much of the sectarian violence in Iraq.

Nasiriya is about 175 miles (280 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad.

In a predominantly Shiite town north of Baghdad, a car bomb detonated at an outdoor market Tuesday evening, killing 29 people and wounding 47, a hospital official said Wednesday.

Other developments

  • Prince Harry of Wales will not deploy to Iraq as a troop commander because of "a number of specific threats" against him, the chief of the general staff, Sir Richard Dannatt, said Wednesday. (Full story)
  • Ten mortars struck Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone on Wednesday, killing two Iraqis and wounding 10 people -- most of them Iraqis -- a U.S. Embassy spokesman said. It is the second day in a row that an indirect attack on the Green Zone has resulted in casualties.
  • Violence spread in and around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Wednesday, as at least six suicide car bombs exploded, killing at least four Iraqi police officers, a Mosul police official said.
  • A procedural vote that failed to pass in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday showed that 44 of the chamber's 49 Republicans stand ready to impose conditions on President Bush's conduct of the war unless Iraqis demonstrate more progress. (Full story)
  • CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, Arwa Damon, Basim Mahdi and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.


    The military is dropping approximately 150,000 leaflets in the region south of Baghdad where the soldiers went missing Saturday.


    • Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
    • Interactive: Sectarian divide
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