HEAVY FIGHTING IN IRAQ
A large number of soldiers have been killed in fierce fighting in Iraq, according to unconfirmed reports.
Some reports have put the toll as high as 130 but others have put the death toll at 12 with 20 wounded.
The large scale battle, described as "intense", has taken place in the town of Ar Ramadi, 20 miles west of Fallujah.
Sky News' David Chater said: "None of this is official yet - none of it is confirmed."
But he added: "It sounds very much like this is being carried out by men who are militarily trained."
Chater described the attack as "highly sophisticated".
Meanwhile, Tony Blair has announced he will fly to Washington to meet George Bush on April 16 to discuss the worsening situation.
Iraqi radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has vowed to continue a Shi'ite uprising until the forces answer his demands.
It has forced Mr Bush to consider sending more troops in an attempt to deal with, what is in effect, an attempted coup.
The cleric's aide said the Coalition must withdraw troops from populated areas, such as Baghdad and Fallujah, and release prisoners.
The demands are in addition to the original call for al-Sadr's extremist newspaper to be reopened after the coalition shut it down.
Al-Sadr's militiamen have opened up three fronts across the country, targeting coalition forces and causing casualties in American, British and Italian held areas.
Sky's David Chater in Baghdad said: "They (the militias) have shown their military might and their demands are growing."
Al-Sadr is believed to have gone underground in an attempt to keep his armed opposition going.
Dozens have died in the past two days in an apparent grab at the Shi'ite leadership by the young cleric.
Latest figures reveal the death of four US troops in an operation west of Baghdad in the province of al-Anbar on Monday.
At least 39 Iraqis have been killed and 126 others wounded in clashes between al-Sadr's militiamen and US soldiers in the past 48 hours, a hospital chief said.
An additional 12 Iraqis died and 27 others were wounded in separate fighting with British troops in the southeastern city of Amara during the same period.
While 500 Italian soldiers, serving in the southern town of Nassiriya, were caught in an hour-long gun battle today which left 15 civilians dead. Eleven of the Italians were injured, but not seriously.
Spanish troops tried to quell a revolt in their area, but were pushed back and they returned to their barracks.
But the British have agreed a deal with al-Sadr's militiamen to re-take the governor's office in Basra, one of the incidents which sparked the current crisis.
The situation is not so encouraging in the north of the country where hundreds of US and Iraqi troops have surrounded the city of Fallujah where earlier a mob killed four Americans and mutilated their bodies.
US Apache helicopters sprayed fire on the private army of the radical cleric during fierce battles in a Baghdad district.
Last Updated: 21:58 UK, Tuesday April 06, 2004