Separately, the UK defence ministry announced on Friday that a British soldier was killed two days earlier but news of the death was kept secret for more than two days for security reasons.
The British news agency Press Association said it was “believed” the soldier was killed in central Iraq rather than the south where most of Britain’s 5,500 soldiers are based.
British soldiers serve in a US-run special operations command that searches for al-Qaeda leaders in central Iraq.
Anbar bridges hit
George Bush, the US president, praised Anbar as showpiece of US military success against al-Qaeda in Iraq during a visit last week.
But on Friday, anti-government fighters blew up two suspension bridges on the main highway leading to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, a police intelligence officer said on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
The blasts against the bridges occurred at about dawn on Friday in a sparsely populated area about 160km west of Baghdad, according to the National Iraqi News Agency, quoting an unidentified official of the highway patrol.
The intelligence officer said the attacks occurred near an intersection where the road forks – with one part heading to Saudi Arabia and the other to Jordan.
A day earlier, the Iraqi government announced it was allocating $70m to Anbar to create thousands of new jobs.
Another $50m was allocated to compensate citizens who suffered from military operations.
Elsewhere, US troops killed three people and detained 18 others during raids against what the US command called the senior leadership of al-Qaeda in Iraq in central and northern parts of the country.
No further details were released on the raids, which began on Thursday night.
Iraqi special forces and their US advisers arrested two suspected al-Qaeda cell leaders in Azamiya, a Sunni district of north Baghdad, the command said.
In another operation, the US said, US special forces and Iraqi soldiers captured two Shia fighters, including a brigade commander believed responsible for the deaths of 13 Iraqis in an attack on an apartment house in May.
Executions at issue
In other news on Friday, the country’s Kurdish president and Sunni vice-president raised objections to the planned execution of three former Saddam Hussein lieutenants convicted of massacring Kurds in the late 1980s.
All three are Sunnis.
|A court has upheld the death sentence
against Saddan’s cousin Chemical Ali [AP]
Earlier this week, an Iraqi appeals court upheld the death sentences imposed against Ali Hassan al-Majid, a former defence minister and a Saddam cousin, better known as “Chemical Ali”; Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai; and Hussein Rashid Mohammed, a former deputy director of operations for the Iraqi armed forces.
Jalal Talabani, the president, said al-Tai should be spared the gallows because he carried out orders under threat of death by Saddam and engaged in unofficial contacts with the Kurds during the former government.
All three were convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in June for their role in the brutal crackdown that killed up to 180,000 Kurdish civilians and rebels two decades ago known as Operation Anfal.