Iraqi fighters and US soldiers waged a pitched battle for more than four hours in farmland near the central town of Khaldiyah, after a convoy came under attack.


In another incident one soldier died and another was wounded in a bomb attack on a convoy around the nearby town of Habbaniyah, where a large US base is located.

The attacks are the latest in the Sunni Muslim region, west of Baghdad, where anti-US sentiment runs high and attacks on American forces have been frequent since Saddam Hussein was removed from power in April.

The Iraqi civilian death toll has also continued to rise as US forces near the northern city of Kirkuk killed a 10-year-old child and wounded a 25-year-old man when they opened fire on hundreds of demonstrators who pelted them with stones, according to local hospital director Abdullah Jiburi. The US army did not provide confirmation of the report.

Incidents have also continued in Baghdad, where an Iraqi official working on the country’s new constitution narrowly escaped an assassination attempt, the second attack on a political figure in nine days.

Prominent Shiite Jalal al-Din al-Sagheer escaped unhurt when his car was fired upon as he was driving home, but his bodyguard was killed.

Meanwhile on the diplomatic front, the European Union called for sovereignty tobe handed over to Iraqis within a “realistic schedule”, but divisions between Britain and France remained.

The United States will present a new resolution at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, which will call for a multinational force and financial assistance to pay for Iraq’s reconstruction.

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