Five US soldiers killed in Iraq

Seven US soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter came under attack Saturday morning in a Sunni insurgent stronghold south of Baghdad, leaving five dead and three missing.

The attack on a patrol of seven US soldiers and an Iraqi army interpreter occurred near Mahmoudiya, a Sunni stronghold about 20 miles south of Baghdad, the military said.

Nearby units heard explosions near the patrol and a drone plane later observed two burning vehicles, the statement said.

Troops who arrived later found five of the troops had been killed and the other three were missing, according to the statement from Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the chief US military spokesman in Iraq.

The military refused to specify whether the Iraqi interpreter was among those killed or among the missing.

Troops were searching for the three missing soldiers, using drone planes and jets and setting up checkpoints throughout the area, according to the statement

Soldiers were also trying to enlist local leaders’ support for information on the missing soldiers, he said.

“Make no mistake, we will never stop looking for our soldiers until their status is definitively determined, and we continue to pray for their safe return,” Caldwell said.

The attack occurred nearly a year after two American soldiers went missing following a June 16 attack in the same area, prompting a massive search.

Their bodies were found tied together with a bomb between one victim’s legs several days later.