By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
May 14, 2007 – The U.S. military, coalition partners and Iraqi security forces are making a "massive effort" to find three American soldiers missing in Iraq since May 12, a senior U.S. military officer said today. "We are using every asset and resource available to the United States and our Iraqi allies in these efforts," Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, said during a videotaped release broadcast on the Pentagon Channel today.
A convoy carrying seven U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi army interpreter was ambushed by enemy forces as it traveled west of Mahmudiyah, Iraq, during a search for roadside bombs, U.S. officials reported. The attack site is located about 20 miles south of Baghdad.
Positive identification has been made of three U.S. soldiers killed in the attack, Caldwell said, and of the Iraqi interpreter. Identification of the fourth U.S. soldier killed in the ambush is pending, he said.
However, "we still have three missing American soldiers," Caldwell said, noting their current duty status is classified as "whereabouts unknown."
"We are doing everything we can to locate our soldiers," Caldwell emphasized, adding that Iraqi citizens are providing tips to help find the missing troops.
Caldwell said credible intelligence information indicates that the U.S. soldiers have been abducted by al Qaeda or an affiliated terrorist group operating in Iraq.
Intelligence teams, manned and unmanned aircraft, and an array of other U.S., coalition and Iraqi assets are being employed in the search operations, Caldwell noted.
Information now being disseminated about the missing soldiers is intentionally limited, Caldwell noted, so as not to jeopardize ongoing search operations. The missing soldiers' families are receiving all available information, he said.
Caldwell said the U.S. military's thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the missing soldiers and to those families who have suffered the death of a loved one as a result of the attack.
Thousands of U.S. troops are combing the area where the missing soldiers were last seen, Caldwell said, noting everyone involved is "doing everything we can to find these brave and courageous soldiers."
The U.S. Army is pledged to honor its tradition of never abandoning a comrade on the battlefield, Caldwell pointed out.
"We live by that creed," the two-star general said.
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