U.S. confirms body of missing soldier found in Iraq

BAGHDAD Thu May 24, 2007 9:55am EDT

1 of 2. A U.S. soldier stands guard at the site of a mortar attack in Baghdad's Karrada commercial district, May 23, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Ceerwan Aziz

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military confirmed on Thursday that a body pulled from the Euphrates River near Baghdad on Wednesday was that of one of three missing U.S. soldiers abducted in an ambush two weeks ago.

Iraqi police said on Wednesday they had found the corpse of a Western-looking man in the river 60 km (40 miles) south of the capital. The body, wearing U.S. Army-issue pants and boots, had bullet wounds and bore signs of torture.

U.S. military spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Josslyn Aberle said the body was that of Private First Class Joseph Anzack Jr. of Torrance, California. He was 20 years old.

Anzack went missing with two comrades after their patrol was ambushed on May 12 in Mahmudiya in the "Triangle of Death", an insurgent stronghold south of Baghdad. Four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi translator were killed in the attack.

The Iraqi police handed over his remains to the U.S. military which performed DNA tests to confirm his identity.

"The search continues for our other two missing service members and we will continue to search until we find them," Aberle said.

Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers have been scouring farmland for the missing soldiers.

The al Qaeda-led Islamic State in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the attack but offered no proof that it held the three missing soldiers.

The U.S. military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, has said he believes at least two of the missing soldiers are still alive.

Condolence messages for Anzack were posted on MySpace, the popular online social network, where in late April, before the ambush, he had posted the message: "I'm not dead, I'm still kickin'" to dispel rumors that he had been killed.

"You were supposed to come back, idiot. I was supposed to be able to tease you about all of this," read one of the messages.

In his MySpace profile, Anzack, who graduated from high school in 2005, said he wanted "to find someone to settle down with".

"I just want to go home," he wrote.