U.S. troops battled insurgents with small arms, rocket and artillery fire near Buhriz, a former Saddam Hussein stronghold about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. U.S. troops killed nine suspected insurgents but suffered no American casualties, the military said.

Trial dates were set for two soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison. Spc. Charles Graner Jr., 36, of Uniontown, Pa., will face court-martial on Jan. 7; while Sgt. Javal Davis, 26, of Maryland, will stand trial Feb. 1.

A car bomb exploded near an American armored vehicle in the northern city of Mosul, wounding five U.S. soldiers, the military said.

Roadside bombs near the southern port city of Basra hit two patrols, wounding three Danish soldiers, the Danish military said.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's appeal for international troops to protect U.N. monitors during Iraq's elections next year is unlikely to get a reply from Europe before the U.S. elections, analysts and diplomats said. However, analysts believe a John Kerry victory could increase pressure on French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to send in troops.