Helicopter strafes area as clashes break out near Baghdad mosque
Above: Iraqi soldiers search the mosque as U.S. troops wrap up operations (left). The military first denied reports by witnesses and Iraqi state TV that helicopters opened fire during the clash, but later admitted that the aircraft fired about 100 rounds of 30 mm ammunition.
BAGHDAD (AP) - U.S. helicopters pounded an area near a Shiite mosque with heavy machine-gun fire Friday, killing two militants just ahead of the start of weekly prayer services and outraging preachers loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The attack took place as al-Sadr's militia is increasingly showing signs of impatience with a U.S.-led push to secure Baghdad , raising fears it might resume its campaign of violence after more than two months of laying low.
The U.S. military said American soldiers called for support and cordoned off the area after they were attacked by small-arms fire from the Ali al-Baiyaa mosque in a religiously mixed neighborhood in western Baghdad at about 9:45 a.m.
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