70 killed as U.S. aviation bombed Iraqi villages

U.S. warplanes and helicopters bombed two villages near the Iraqi city of Ramadi, a hotbed of Sunni-Arab insurgents west of Baghdad, killing an estimated 70 militants, the military said Monday. But witnesses said at least 39 were civilians.

The violence on Sunday occurred a day after Iraq voted on and apparently passed a landmark constitution that many Sunnis opposed. On referendum day, a roadside bomb killed five U.S. soldiers in a vehicle in the Al-Bu Ubaid village on the eastern outskirts of Ramadi.

As officials continued Monday to count the millions of paper ballots from the referendum, the constitution seemed assured of passage after initial results showed minority Sunnis had fallen short in an effort to veto it at the polls.

A foreign election observer confirmed that apparent outcome in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday. He spoke on condition of anonymity, saying the Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission would announce the official result later this week when the vote counting was completed in the provinces and Iraq's capital, reports the AP.

P.T.