I'd have posted a "link", but I don't know how to do such things! I also added the bolded text in the hope that it would help the "skimmers" to get to the gist of the article. Baron Max Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. Updated 6:43 PM ET May 31, 2007 By STEVEN R. HURST BAGHDAD (AP) - U.S. troops battled al-Qaida in west Baghdad on Thursday after Sunni residents challenged the militants and called for American help to end furious gunfire that kept students from final exams and forced people in the neighborhood to huddle indoors. Backed by helicopter gunships, American forces joined the two-day battle in the Amariyah district, according to a councilman and other residents of the Sunni district. The fight reflects a trend that U.S. and Iraqi officials have been trumpeting recently to the west in Anbar province, once considered the headquarters of the Sunni insurgency. Many Sunni tribes in the province have banded together to fight al-Qaida, claiming the terrorist group is more dangerous than American forces. ...(edited by BM) Although al-Qaida is a Sunni organization opposed to the Shiite-dominated government, its ruthlessness and reliance on foreign fighters have alienated many Sunnis in Iraq. The U.S. military congratulated Amariyah residents for standing up to al-Qaida. "The events of the past two days are promising developments. Sunni citizens of Amariyah that have been previously terrorized by al-Qaida are now resisting and want them gone. They're tired of the intimidation that included the murder of women," Kuehl said. A U.S. military official, who would not be named because the information was not for release, said the Army was checking reports of a big al-Qaida enclave in Amariyah housing foreign fighters, including Afghans, doing temporary duty in Iraq. U.S.-funded Alhurra television reported that non-Iraqi Arabs and Afghans were among the fighters over the past two days. Kuehl said he could not confirm those reports. The heaviest fighting came at 11 a.m. when gunmen _ identified by residents as al-Qaida fighters _ began shooting randomly into the air, forcing people to flee into their homes and students from classrooms. They said the fighters drove through the streets using loudspeakers to claim that Amariyah was under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida front group. Armed residents were said to have resisted, set some of the al-Qaida gunmen's cars on fire and called the Americans for help. One Amariyah resident, reached by telephone late Thursday, said the shooting continued, especially along al-Monadhama Street, the main thoroughfare in the district not far from Baghdad International Airport, where the U.S. military has extensive facilities. "The Americans came this afternoon and it got quiet for a while. We are staying home, frightened. We have no idea what's going on. There's nothing to do. There has been shooting outside since last (Wednesday) night," the resident said. Everyone contacted in the neighborhood spoke on condition of anonymity, citing fears of reprisals from roaming gunmen. Casualty figures were not immediately available. But the district councilman said the al-Qaida leader in Amariyah, known as Haji Hameed, was killed and 45 other fighters were detained. ...(edited by BM) Elsewhere, ...(edited by Baron Max) Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.