Major General William Caldwell said the whereabouts of three US soldiers was unknown
Posted by Aljazeera.net
Five US soldiers were killed and three went missing when their unit was attacked south of Baghdad, the US military has said.
The attack on a patrol of seven US soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter occured early on Saturday morning.
The US military said the attack took place at 4:44am near Mahmudiya, about 30km south of the capital.
Mahmudiya is a stronghold of Sunni Arab fighters opposed to the US-backed government in Iraq.
Troops who arrived later found five of the soldiers dead and the other three remained missing, according to a statement from Major-General William Caldwell, the chief US military spokesman in Iraq.
"The quick reaction force reported finding five members of the team killed in action and three others whose duty status and whereabouts are unknown," Caldwell said.
The military refused to specify whether the Iraqi interpreter was among those killed or among the missing, citing security reasons.
Soldiers were searching for the missing, using drone planes and jets and setting up checkpoints throughout the area.
Soldiers were also trying to enlist support from local leaders for information.
Caldwell said: "Make no mistake: We will never stop looking for our soldiers until their status is definitively determined, and we continue to pray for their safe return."
The attack occurred nearly a year after two American soldiers went missing following a June 16 attack in the same area, prompting a massive search. Their bodies were found tied together with a bomb between one victim's legs several days later.
Two other US soldiers remain missing in action from the current conflict, including Sergeant Matt Maupin, of Batavia, Ohio, missing since April 2004 and Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie, a 41-year-old Iraqi-born reserve soldier from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who was abducted while visiting his Iraqi wife on October 23 in Baghdad.