U.S. Deploys for Showdown With Cleric

A 2,500-strong U.S. force, backed by tanks and artillery, pushed to the outskirts of the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Tuesday for a showdown with a radical cleric who said he was prepared to die in his battle against the U.S.-led occupation.

An American helicopter went down near Fallujah, and an insurgent said he hit it with a rocket-propelled grenade. There were no reported injuries to the crew, although a team securing the site later suffered unspecified casualties, a Marine commander said. At least 78 U.S. troops were killed and 561 were wounded in Iraq in the first 12 days of April, said Lt. Gen. Richard Cody, the deputy chief of staff for operations at the Pentagon. Full Story

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