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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

9 Suspected Militants Detained in Iraq Raids

BAGHDAD -- U.S.-led forces detained nine suspected insurgents in raids aimed at al-Qaida in Iraq, the U.S. military said Friday, including five in a region that has seen a recent rise in violence as militants fled there to escape a security crackdown in Baghdad.

In southern Iraq, the Basra provincial council is expected to hold a no-confidence vote against the Shiite governor of the oil-rich region amid demonstrations by political groups calling for his resignation and accusing him of corruption, officials said Friday.

The announcements came one day after heavy violence across Iraq, including a suicide car bomb attack on Iraqi forces, killed at least 72 people. The bullet-riddled bodies of 27 men were found dumped in Baghdad, apparently victims of sectarian death squads.

Still, U.S. Major General William Caldwell, the U.S. military's top spokesman, insisted that the U.S. command felt "very comfortable" that it is making "steady progress" in restoring order in Baghdad. "We are seeing those initial signs of progress being made," he said Thursday.

The U.S. Senate, meanwhile, adopted House-passed legislation calling for U.S. troops to begin leaving Iraq by Oct. 1, but U.S. President George W. Bush pledged to veto the measure and neither body passed the measure with enough votes to override a veto.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Oct. 1 was too soon for a withdrawal to start and criticized the Senate vote, saying that it "sends wrong signals" to armed militants.

The U.S. military said the nine suspected insurgents it captured Friday during raids against al-Qaida in Iraq included one who was leading a kidnapping operation in Salman Pak, a town just southeast of Baghdad where Sunni and Shiite extremists have frequently clashed.

Five others were detained in Mosul, 360 kilometers northwest of the capital, who allegedly made car bombs and attacked U.S. and Iraqi forces, the statement said.

In another development Friday, the U.S. military also said an Iraqi detainee at Camp Bucca, a U.S. Army prison in Iraq, died the day before from injuries apparently sustained during an assault by other prisoners. The case was being investigated.

n Democratic U.S. presidential hopefuls flashed their anti-war credentials Thursday night, robustly criticizing Bush's Iraq policy in an unusually early first debate of the 2008 campaign.

"If this president does not get us out of Iraq, when I am president, I will," said Senator Hillary Clinton, one of eight contenders on the debate stage.

But Clinton found herself on the receiving end of criticism moments later when former Senator John Edwards said she or anyone else who voted to authorize the war should "search their conscience." Edwards, in the Senate at the time, also cast his vote for the invasion, but he has since apologized for it.