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U.S., Iraqi troops reach center of Fallujah

FALLUJAH, Iraq, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- At least 10 U.S. soldiers died during two days of fighting in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, with U.S. and Iraqi troops reaching the center of the city Tuesday.

The forces have faced less resistance than expected, Lt. Col. Pete Newell with Task Force 2-2 of the 1st Infantry Division told CNN. "Thirty hours into the fighting, Task Force 2-2 and the attached Iraqi intervention force have sustained minimal casualties."

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Newell said his unit had killed or wounded 85 to 90 insurgents, while the Army uncovered a weapons cache with two rocket-propelled grenades and 100 pounds of TNT explosive.

Soldiers were confronted with sniper fire and booby-traps with, but not as many as anticipated. However, military sources were unsure whether they had intercepted the core of the insurgency in Fallujah, reported CNN.

The officials had estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 insurgents had established a headquarters in Fallujah, including Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terror network But officials said many might have slipped away amid widespread reports that the battle was approaching.

"We believe most of the al-Zarqawi senior leadership has departed," one military source said.

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The offensive in Fallujah involves some 10,000 U.S. forces and more than 2,000 Iraqi troops, Pentagon officials said.

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