Eighteen Iraqis, including senior police officers, soldiers and civilians, have been killed in a series of attacks across the country, police say.
Two police officers were gunned down on Monday in the northern Iraqi cities of Samarra and Mosul, while four other police officers died in separate shoot-outs in Baghdad.
Three soldiers were killed in clashes with fighters in the Iraqi capital.
Two civilians died when fighters attacked an Iraqi army base near the northern oil refinery town of Baiji, while a Turkish trucker was also gunned down by unidentified armed men near Baiji.
Security forces targeted
Late on Monday a lieutenant colonel with the Interior Ministry, Mohammed Abed Wali, and his driver were shot dead when two vehicles with fighters surrounded his car and opened fire, a source in the Defence Ministry told AFP.
Another police officer also died later in the day in Samarra in a shoot-out with fighters, in which a woman and child were wounded in the crossfire.
Two bombers blew themselves
up in attacks on US convoys
Also in Samarra, three Iraqi army soldiers were killed and four others wounded when attacked by armed men during a patrol.
In other violence, two bombers blew themselves up separately while attacking US military convoys north of Baghdad, wounding five civilians.
Police said three suspected fighters were also killed in gunfights with security forces north of Baghdad, while a businessman was kidnapped at gunpoint.
In a related development, Syria expressed "deep regret" over comments made on Monday by Iraq's interior minister, who accused Damascus of not making a serious effort to crack down on fighters in its territory or prevent them from entering neighboring Iraq.
"The statement attributed to Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr contradicts with what was agreed on in Baghdad," the state-run news agency SANA quoted an unidentified Syrian Foreign Ministry official as saying.
Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said
he had proof of Syrian links to fighters
The official added that Syria wants to "build the best relations with Iraq and is ready to provide anything that could help" Baghdad to combat fighters opposed to the presence of foreign troops in Iraq.
Jabr, in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in Turkey, indicated he was not optimistic that Damascus would curb supporters of the violence on its territory.
He also said that he had pictures and addresses of leaders in Syria.
"They say, 'We are ready to cooperate,' and I hope they
cooperate, but only talking is not sufficient," Jabr said a day before the interior ministers of Iraq's neighbours were scheduled to meet in Istanbul. "We need real steps to capture these names."
The Syrian official said Damascus wants to promote the "safety and unity" of Iraq and that his country has
"deployed a large number of its soldiers" along the Syrian-Iraqi border and "increased the number of checkpoints" to stop fighters from entering Iraq.
Syria also last month sent a diplomatic and security delegation to Baghdad to brief Iraqi officials on the efforts exerted by Syria to control its border and asked Iraqi authorities to "provide Syria with any information, photos or phone numbers concerning the issue of infiltration through borders but received nothing," said the official.
Jabr also said that while Jordan was committed to stopping the flow of money from its territory to fighters, many
Jordanians and Iraqi expatriates in the country were still
succeeding in getting significant financial support to the