US forces and insurgents have fought a six-hour battle in the Iraqi city of Ramadi. It is not clear how many people died or who they were. US commanders say they are investigating claims civilians were among the fatalities. They say soldiers killed 12 insurgents who had been in several buildings hit by air strikes.
Local Iraqi officials say 26 people died – some of them women and children. Hurried burials took place amid the devastation. It is not the first time the volatile city has been a battleground for US-led forces and insurgents. If civilians deaths are confirmed it will deepen Iraqi hostility towards the Americans.
Adding further to tensions in the country a US soldier has been sentenced to 100 years in jail for raping and murdering a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her family. He was spared the death penalty by a plea agreement. Anger has also been fuelled among Sunnis by the recent alleged rape of a woman by Shi’tie police officers.