Body found of Iraq's missing governor

Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 31, 2005 at 11:24 p.m.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. and Iraqi troops battled foreign fighters near the Syrian border and found the body of Anbar province's missing governor, the highest-ranking Iraqi official kidnapped since the fall of Saddam Hussein, authorities said Tuesday.
The announcement came as the Shiite-dominated parliament reached out to Iraq's disgruntled Sunni Arab minority by offering a role on the committee drafting a new constitution.
But in a development that could affect efforts to get Shiites and Sunnis working together, President Jalal Talabani said Saddam, a Sunni, could be put on trial in the next two months. The former dictator's lawyers said they knew nothing about that.
Foreign extremists are thought to be a small portion of the Sunni-dominated insurgency, although they are blamed for some of the worst bombings and other bloodshed that have killed 765 Iraqis in the month since the new government took power.
Officials said the body of Anbar Gov. Raja Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi was found Sunday after troops engaged in a fierce firefight with foreigners holed up in a house in Rawah, a desert village 175 miles northwest of Baghdad.
The battle killed two Syrians, an Algerian and a Jordanian and wounded two Saudis and a Moroccan, a U.S. military spokesman, Maj. Wes Hayes, said.
''After questioning the wounded foreign fighters, coalition forces investigated the house and discovered (al-Mahalawi's) body, which had not been shot,'' Hayes said.
An Iraqi government spokesman, Laith Kuba, said the governor apparently was killed by falling rubble. He was chained to a tank of propane.
Al-Mahalawi was kidnapped May 10 during an offensive by U.S. Marines to clear foreign fighters from a stretch of desert along the border with Syria.
Another U.S. operation in the region ended Monday in nearby Haditha after scouring that town for insurgents and local allies of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
FYI: U.S. war deaths AT A GLANCE
  • As of Tuesday, May 31, 2005, at least 1,661 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
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