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Some 15 suspected al-Qaida in Iraq fighters were reported dead after a daylong battle that began with an attack on “concerned citizens” checkpoints south of Baghdad, U.S. military officials said.

The battle took place earlier this week in Adwaniyah, where U.S. officials have just instituted a version of the “neighborhood patrols” that see armed civilians defending their own neighborhoods.

In this case, officials said, the attack “hoped to deter the grass-roots security effort by conducting a complex attack on the citizens.”

Insurgents attacked two separate checkpoints simultaneously, with troops from the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division and Iraqi troops responding.

U.S. military officials said there were some 30 to 45 attackers on foot using small arms, with other attackers using machine guns mounted in trucks. U.S. troops called in two airstrikes from Air Force F-16s, holding off the al-Qaida fighters from overrunning the checkpoints.

“I think all the elements that had a part in [the] battle were impressed with the concerned citizens,” 1st Lt. Robert Hamilton, a Troop B, 1st Battalion, 40th Cavalry Regiment platoon leader, was quoted as saying in a military news release. “For the number of factors against them, they handled themselves well.”

There were no reports of casualties suffered by either the Iraqi civilian guards or coalition troops.

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