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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Airstrike in Baghdad Targets Rooftop Militants

BAGHDAD -- U.S. airstrikes on a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad overnight killed at least 14 people, including one woman, and destroyed 11 houses, Iraqi police said Thursday.

The U.S. military said its special forces called in the strikes after coming under fire from gunmen on rooftops during an operation against Shiite militants suspected of killing local police and Sunni Arabs.

It said the soldiers, accompanied by Iraqi special forces, directed aircraft to fire on two buildings where gunmen were holed up. Two other buildings sustained minor damage.

"The targeted Shiite extremists are part of a terrorist cell ... responsible for attacking local police and conducting illegal checkpoints to intimidate, extort and murder local citizens. The teams also conducts extra-judicial killings of Sunnis," the military said in a statement.

The statement did not say whether any militants or civilians were killed.

U.S. and Iraqi forces have stepped up raids against Shiite militant cells in Baghdad as part of a wider crackdown on sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis.

U.S. commanders and President George W. Bush said this week that the seven-month offensive had improved security in Iraq. The top U.S. military commander there, General David Petraeus, suggested in an interview with ABC News on Tuesday that he would recommend a cut in U.S. troop numbers around March when he testifies before Congress next week.

Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker will deliver their long-awaited assessment on Bush's decision to send 30,000 additional soldiers to Iraq, raising force levels to 160,000.