The two crew members of a U.S. Apache helicopter were killed when it was shot down in Iraq on Sunday, the U.S. army said."
The helicopter was downed five km (three miles) west of Baghdad airport, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for the U.S. army in Iraq, told a news conference.
Japan has placed three aircraft on standby in Kuwait, in case three hostages being held by Mujahadeen fighters in Iraq are released.
But there is still no word on the captives' fate.
Two aid workers and a journalist were taken hostage in Iraq on Thursday.
The kidnappers threatened to kill the trio if Japan did not withdraw its troops from Iraq by last night.
A Japanese official says three C-130 transport planes have now been put on standby in Kuwait, but declined to indicate whether this means the hostages are about to be released.
The Japanese Government says it has made no progress in winning the release of three hostages being held in Iraq."
An Iraqi man claiming to have spoken to the kidnappers says the hostages will be executed one by one from later tonight if the demands are not met.
The Japanese Government has not able to confirm the report and one official says attempts to free the hostages have made no progress.
The Iraqi group holding a US hostage has agreed not to kill him, Mezher Dulaimi, a self-described Iraqi mediator, said today."
Dulaimi, who heads an Iraqi human rights group, said the affair of the missing American had been settled, and he was in good health.
Dulaimi said that the US hostage had received medical attention.
However there was no immediate word on when he might be released.
The ceasefire in the besieged Iraqi town of Fallujah has been extended by 24 hours until Monday night local time.
A senior member of the Iraqi Islamic Party which is leading the mediation effort, says both US forces and insurgents agreed to the extension.
Residents of Fallujah are burying their dead and trying to get out of the city during the lull in the fighting.
Local hospital officials say more than 600 people have been killed, most of them civilians.
The marines insist most of the dead are fighters.
Mediators continue efforts for a negotiated solution but the US military is re-enforcing its troops to resume the offensive if talks fail.
Police deployed in the central Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf Monday following an agreement, involving the US -led coalition, for the pullout of armed militiamen from the streets, police said.
Across the city, police forces deployed in all police stations which had been taken this week by Sadr's Mehdi Army militia.
Police deployed in force in Najaf, taking over police stations and public buildings.
No Mehdi Army militiamen were seen on the streets.
A battalion of the new Iraqi army refused to go to Fallujah earlier this week to support U.S. Marines battling for control of the city, senior U.S. Army officers here said, disclosing an incident that is casting new doubt on U.S. plans to transfer security matters to Iraqi forces."
It was the first time U.S. commanders had sought to involve the postwar Iraqi army in major combat operations, and the battalion's refusal came as large parts of Iraqi security forces have stopped carrying out their duties.
The 620-man 2nd Battalion of the Iraqi Armed Forces refused to fight Monday after members of the unit were shot at in a Shiite Muslim neighborhood in Baghdad while en route to Fallujah, a Sunni Muslim stronghold, said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who is overseeing the development of Iraqi security forces. The convoy then turned around and returned to the battalion's post on a former Republican Guard base in Taji, a town north of the capital.
Eaton said members of the battalion insisted during the ensuing discussions: " We did not sign up to fight Iraqis ."
He declined to characterize the incident as a mutiny, but rather called it "a command failure."
The refusal of the battalion to perform as U.S. officials had hoped poses a significant problem for the occupation. The cornerstone of the U.S. strategy in Iraq is to draw down its military presence and turn over security functions to Iraqis.
Over the past two weeks, that approach has suffered a severe setback as Iraqi security forces have crumbled in some parts of the country. In recent days perhaps 20 percent to 25 percent of the Iraqi army, civil defense, police and other security forces have quit, changed sides, or otherwise failed to perform their duties, a senior Army officer said Saturday.
A soldier with the 1st Armored Division, who has recently been engaged in combat in Baghdad, said many of the Iraqi security troops with whom he has worked are no longer reporting for duty. "I think what we are seeing is not some mass quitting and mutiny by ICDC [Iraqi Civil Defense Corps], but rather just plain fear," the soldier said. "And all it takes is one Iraqi to take the lead in leaving, and they all do out of fear."
One of the problems, Eaton said, was that the Iraqi troops were not told they would be given a relatively benign role, and assumed they were being hurled into the middle of a bloody fight, battling on the side of the Americans against Arabs. " The battalion thought it was going to be thrown into a firestorm in Fallujah ," he said.
Complicating communications, he said, was that the battalion had 10 new U.S. advisers who rotated into their jobs April 1, just four days before the incident, replacing the advisers who had trained the unit for months.
US marines told today how they killed one suicide bomber and discovered a suicide bomb workshop in the Sunni Muslim bastion of Fallujah, apparently run by Iraqis and foreigners.
The building, found on Thursday when marines chased a sniper, provided new evidence of the growing role of Iraqis in suicide bombings, the marines said.
Iraqi police and judges have recently expressed alarm about the increasing involvement of Iraqis in suicide bombings, which US officials had previously blamed on foreign fighters thought to be slipping across the border.
Police in the holy city of Karbala charged that some Iraqis were indoctrinated and high on drugs when they were dispatched on suicide missions.
Top US military officials warned the radical Islamic current in Iraq relied more heavily on Iraqi nationals than foreign elements.
Members of the 1st Battalion 5th (1-5) Marines said they stumbled on the workshop when they were trying to locate a sniper position.
" There was an open storage area and a living room. There were four belts packed with explosives ," said Lance Corporal James Walter, one of the men who discovered the arsenal in Fallujah's southeastern industrial sector.
A box of old US military uniforms were also found, issued by the US Army's 82nd Airborne, said Lieutenant Colonel Brennan Byrne.
Marines said that they believed about 15 to 20 people had been working in the facility.
Also on Thursday, marines from the 1-5 battalion shot dead a suicide bomber, captured a second individual and found a third blood-stained belt.
Marines had come under fire and entered a home where they shot and killed the bomber.
The marines then lobbed grenades at the body to blow it up amid fears the corpse was booby trapped, said Captain James Smith.
He showed pictures of the corpse before the marines blew up the body, with a white belt and wiring attached to a bearded man lying on a tile floor.
The suicide belts were fashioned in the style of the radical Palestinian group Hamas , with a hand-held detonator, Byrne said.
Asked about the people using the workshop, he said: " It seems a mix of nationalities ."