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Couple, son killed during U.S. raid in Iraq

  • Story Highlights
  • Workers begin rebuilding revered Al-Askariya Mosque in Samarra
  • U.S. says three were killed in "intelligence-driven raid" on terror cell
  • Iraqi Foreign Ministry calls fatal shooting of diplomat an assassination
  • Al Qaeda in Iraq looking to attack outside Iraq, U.S. intelligence chief says
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A couple and their son were killed and four other people were injured Tuesday during a U.S. military raid in northern Iraq, police said.

The incident marks the second time in four days that a U.S.-led coalition operation was blamed for killing Iraqi civilians.

A father, mother and son were killed in a raid on their home in Adwar, a village just south of Tikrit, police in Tikrit said.

The U.S. military confirmed the deaths, saying that "two men and a woman were killed during an intelligence-driven raid on a terrorist cell."

Though police said the victims were civilians, the U.S. military said troops entered a building after an "unknown enemy" fired upon them. Troops fired on the enemy once inside the building, the military said.

Troops later found the three dead and a child who had "leg injuries," according to the military.

On Saturday, nine Iraqi civilians were killed and three others wounded during a coalition operation in Tal al-Samar, near Iskandariya, south of Baghdad. A child and two women were among the dead, said police in Babil.

Police said the casualties resulted from a U.S. airstrike.

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News of Tuesday's incident came as officials raised a new flag over Baghdad for the first time.

As a band played the Iraqi national anthem, officials lowered the old flag and hoisted a temporary one at a ceremony at Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's office in Baghdad's Green Zone.

The flag does not include symbols from the Saddam Hussein era, and the design was altered to appease Iraqi Kurds who demanded changes to the Hussein-era flag.

The flag is a temporary one that the president and two vice presidents approved last week. The Iraqi parliament has one year to agree on a permanent flag.

The flag design was a sticking point in Iraq's 2005 passage of a constitution.

Ali Hadi, a spokesman for the prime minister, said the flag will be flown at all government buildings. The flag retained its red, white and black horizontal stripes, but the writing on the central white stripe was altered.

Hussein's handwritten "Allahu Akbar," or "God Is Great," was replaced by the same phrase printed in green but in different calligraphy.

The three green stars on the white stripe were excised as well. Those marks represented Hussein's Baathist Party slogan of unity, freedom and socialism. The old flag was designed after a 1963 coup brought the Baathists to power.

Other developments

Two U.S. Navy SEALs died Monday after being hit by small arms fire during combat operations in Iraq, the Department of Defense said Tuesday. The sailors were identified as Chief Petty Officer Michael E. Koch, 29, of State College, Pa., and Chief Petty Officer Nathan H. Hardy, 29, of Durham, N.H., according to a department news release. Both men were assigned to East Coast-based SEAL teams, the military said. The deaths bring to 3,947 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the war in Iraq began.

Coalition troops killed six militants in two raids aimed at al Qaeda in Iraq, the U.S. military said. Troops in both raids, conducted north of Baquba, were targeting associates of a suicide-network facilitator, the military said. Two Iraqi civilians were injured in the operation, it said.

Almost two years after the bombing of Al-Askariya Mosque in Samarra sparked widespread violence, the rebuilding of the historic Shiite shrine is under way. The February 22, 2006, bombing -- allegedly by Sunni militants -- triggered Sunni-Shiite civil warfare and population displacement in the months that followed. The mosque was attacked again last June.

As coalition forces continue to inflict "significant damage" on al Qaeda in Iraq, the U.S. intelligence community fears the terror group may be refocusing its resources and leveraging its external networks to perpetrate attacks outside Iraq, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell told a Senate panel Tuesday. However, McConnell said that "the ongoing conflict in Iraq will likely absorb most of AQI's resources over the next year," according to a prepared statement.

• An Iraqi diplomat was fatally shot Monday in western Baghdad. Waleed al-Hiyali, 34, was driving his car in the Mansour district when he was gunned down, said the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, which called the attack an assassination. Al-Hiyali had been with the ministry since 2004.

• U.S. troops Tuesday arrested a suspected associate of an al Qaeda in Iraq militant linked to the killing of five American soldiers in the northern city of Mosul. A roadside bomb killed the troops January 28. Mosul is the scene of an expected showdown between coalition troops and al Qaeda in Iraq, which has a strong presence there. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.

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