Reports from Iraq say U.S. forces have clashed with fighters loyal to radical Shi'ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on the edge of the southern city of Kufa.
Reporters on the scene said (late Monday) several explosions have been heard on the outskirts of the city located near the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf, where Mr. al-Sadr is now holed up with militiamen.
Najaf is surrounded by U.S. forces which have threatened to capture or kill the cleric, whose militia has staged attacks on coalition forces.
On Monday, a coalition spokesman said Mr. al-Sadr's militiamen are stockpiling weapons in mosques, shrines and schools in Najaf.
Meanwhile, two U.S. soldiers were killed (Monday) have been killed and five others wounded in the Iraqi capital, in an explosion at a suspected munitions storehouse.
In Fallujah, at least eight Iraqi insurgents and one U.S. Marine were killed in firefights that erupted despite a supposed truce in the city.
South of Baghdad, a Spanish army patrol killed five insurgents and captured seven others after coming under attack near Diwaniyah.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.