UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to let the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq remain in place through the end of 2006, as requested by Iraq's government.
Without council action, the mandate of the force, which now numbers about 178,000 troops, would have ended Dec. 31, when a democratically elected government is to take power in Baghdad under a new constitution approved Oct. 15. Parliamentary elections are set for Dec. 15.
The resolution adopted by the council authorizes the new Iraqi government to terminate the mandate when it chooses.
U.S. and foreign troops are focusing on fighting insurgents and training Iraqi forces.
In recent days, 2,500 U.S. troops and about 1,000 Iraqi soldiers have been engaged in a high-profile operation to clear insurgents from a small town on the Syrian border that commanders say has been a gateway and training ground for militants entering Iraq.
Col. Stephen W. Davis, commander of U.S. Marines in Iraq's western Al Anbar province, said Tuesday that Husaybah had been "cleared and secured."
U.S. and Iraqi troops killed 36 suspected insurgents and arrested 68 in the latest offensive, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said.
Elsewhere, insurgents were striking back against Iraqi security forces.
In Baqubah today, seven Iraqi policemen were killed and nine people were wounded when a suicide car bomber hit a police patrol, medical and army sources said.
On Tuesday, a policeman was killed in a drive-by shooting in Baqubah, and in an incident 25 miles to the north, an improvised bomb killed four Iraqi soldiers driving in a convoy.
In the southern port city of Basra, gunmen killed an Iraqi intelligence official. In Fallouja, west of Baghdad, gunmen shot two Iraqi soldiers to death.