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3 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq

BAGHDAD - Two U.S. soldiers were killed by an Iraqi trooper who opened fire on them during a training exercise yesterday, raising fresh concerns about Iraq's security forces as the Americans prepare to withdraw from the country by the end of this year.

Another soldier was killed yesterday during a military operation in central Iraq, making it one of the deadliest days for U.S. forces in the country in months.

A U.S. statement confirmed that two soldiers were killed and one was wounded in northern Iraq but gave no further details.

But U.S. and Iraqi officials said the shooting occurred during a training exercise at Forward Operating Base Marez, in the northern city of Mosul. A U.S. official said only one Iraqi soldier appeared to have fired on the Americans. But two Iraqi officials said two assailants were captured.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

The exercise in Mosul was a final drill to showcase U.S. efforts to train Iraqi forces before a visit Monday by top U.S. and Iraqi generals.

Both nations have been eager to highlight Iraq's security forces before U.S. troops leave the county at the end of the year after eight years of war.

An Iraqi military official said the exercise was designed to train security forces how to launch attacks and capture suspects.

The U.S. soldiers were from the 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas.

Attacks by Iraqi soldiers and police against Americans are not unprecedented, especially in Mosul, a former al-Qaida haven and Iraq's third-largest city, located 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.

- AP

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