Four US soldiers killed in Iraq's Diyala-military

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BAGHDAD, Sep 14 (Reuters) Four US soldiers were killed today by an explosion near their vehicle in Iraq's volatile Diyala province, north of Baghdad, the US military said.

Their deaths take to 3,780 the number of US service personnel killed since the US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in March 2003.

No other details about the incident were immediately available.

A total of 38 US soldiers have been killed so far in September, compared with 84 last month.

Thousands of US and Iraqi troops have been cracking down on al Qaeda and other Sunni Arab militants in Diyala province in recent weeks as part of nationwide offensives against the Sunni Islamist group, insurgents and Shi'ite militias.

US President George W Bush earlier this year announced a ''surge'' of 30,000 extra troops as part of a security crackdown meant to buy time for Iraq's fractured, Shi'ite-led government to foster reconciliation between majority Shi'ites and minority Sunni Arabs.

Bush yesterday approved a limited US troop withdrawal from Iraq but said the US military role would stretch beyond his presidency.

Reuters SZ VP0100

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