More than 5,000 U.S., Iraqi and British troops have launched a major offensive to root-out insurgents south of Baghdad.
U.S. Marines and Iraqi security forces swept through the town of Jabella on Tuesday, arresting 32 suspected fighters. British troops redeployed from southern Iraq, are also helping to return the area to government control.
Tuesday's raids follow a two-week campaign in Fallujah to crush the heart of Iraq's insurgency, and a smaller, similar operation in the northern city of Mosul.
In another development, a Sunni Muslim cleric was gunned down outside a mosque north of Baghdad. He is the second Sunni cleric to be killed in as many days.
And U.S. officials say a bomb was found aboard an airplane at Baghdad International Airport. The device was removed and no one was hurt.