The U.S. military says 18 Shi'ite militants have been killed in fierce battles with U.S. troops in western Baghdad.
The military says the fighting erupted early today (Friday) after militants fired on a U.S. patrol in Baghdad's Shula district.
The military says U.S. attack helicopters fired on up to a dozen militants who had assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. The area is known to be a stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia, which is loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Witnesses say there were civilian casualties. In other news, a U.S. commander in Iraq says he is troubled by the scale of support members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are allegedly providing to insurgents in Iraq. Army Major General Rick Lynch, commander of troops south of Baghdad, says there are an estimated 50 Iranian and Iraqi operatives working for Iran in his region alone.