BAGHDAD - A massive search for three U.S. soldiers missing in Iraq is pointless, an al-Qaida-linked group that claims to have the soldiers said.
"What you are doing searching for your soldiers will be in vain and lead to nothing but fatigue and unrest," the umbrella group Islamic State of Iraq, which includes al-Qaida, said in an Internet posting.
"Your soldiers are in our hands. If you desire safety do not look for them."
About 4,000 troops have been looking for the soldiers since they were seized in an ambush Saturday morning in Mahmudiya, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell told the Times the search would continue.
"We are using every asset and resource available to the United States and our Iraqi allies in these efforts," he said.
A tribal leader in Mahmudiya said that the area can be very dangerous.
"A number of parties are involved in this -- al-Qaida and other militias,"
Sheik Ali al-Hatim, the leader of the Dulaimi tribe told the newspaper. "Al-Qaida has been knocking on people's doors and telling them that their sons between the ages of 20 and 30 must join their organization."
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