More than 5,000 U.S., British and Iraqi government troops are combing through small towns south of Baghdad, in the continuing hunt for insurgents.
The U.S. military says the operation in the insurgent-controlled "triangle of death" is not a massive military sweep like the one recently completed west of the capital in Fallujah. Instead, authorities say troops are focusing on a series of smaller, targeted raids that are likely to continue through the week.
A senior Iraqi Interior Ministry official says dozens of insurgents already have been detained.
In other developments, the U.S. military says gunmen opened fire on Iraqi National Guard soldiers late Tuesday in the northern city of Kirkuk. One guardsman and one civilian were killed in a drive-by shooting, after the guardsmen stopped to help the civilian with his car.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.