The US also revealed on Tuesday the deaths of three more soldiers in what it called non-hostile incidents.

Troops from the 3rd Corps Support Command were travelling in a convoy when they were attacked by an improvised explosive device, said Central Command on Tuesday.

The attack took place at approximately 9.30am (05:30 GMT) near the town of Hamariyah, on a highway between the restive Sunni Muslim towns of Falluja and Ramadi, agencies reported. The area is a hotbed of resistance against occupying US-led forces.

The soldiers, whose identities were not disclosed, were taken to the 28th Combat Support Hospital.

Non-hostile shootings

The latest death takes the toll of US servicemen officially killed in hostile incidents to 65 since President George Bush declared major combat over in Iraq on 1 May.

But including a surprisingly high number non-combat deaths suffered by US force in Iraq, the combined total has reportedly reached 142 – four more than the 138 US military fatalities before 1 May.

US, UK, & multinational troops killed

In combat:
Total                 (After 1 May)
US        196       (65) 
UK          18       (10) 
Others     0         (1) 
US           97      (75) 
UK           30        (5) 
          Iraqi fatalities

Military                2320* 
Civilians  About 8000**

*US military estimate

** According to the web site with figures corroborated by at
least two media sources

Two soldiers of the 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment died on 23 August, one of so-called non-hostile gunshot wound, and one by drowning in the Euphrates river.

Another soldier had died of a non-hostile gunshot wound on Monday.

Mass arrests

Elsewhere, as many as 3000 US troops swooped on suspected terrorists, bombers and gang members in a massive raid north of Baghdad on Tuesday, the military said.

Troops detained 22 people on suspicion of anti-coalition activities in the morning raids, AFP quoted army spokeswoman Josslyn Aberle as saying.

Among them were seven people specifically wanted for
anti-coalition and terrorist attacks.

"This is an ongoing operation covering parts of our region where
we don't have a significant military presence," said Aberle.

She said the raid was launched to snare "anti-coalition
subversive elements" wanted for a range of incidents, without
specifying which.