Iraqi police identified a half-naked corpse found floating in the Euphrates River Wednesday as one of three missing U.S. soldiers.
The body, which reportedly had bullet wounds to the head and chest, was dumped in a canal in the Iraqi town of Musayyib, 60 kilometres south of Baghdad in Babil province. Babil police Capt. Muthana Khalid said U.S. forces now have the body.
Hilla police spokesmanCapt. Muthanna al-Maamouri told the Reuters news agency the dead man was dressed in U.S. Army-issue pants and boots and that his left arm also bore a tattoo.
The U.S. military has feared the three missing soldiers were captured by al-Qaeda since militants ambushed an American convoy on May 12 in a thinly populated area that has become known as the "Triangle of Death" because of the frequency of attacks on U.S. and Iraqi soldiers there.
In the same attack, four U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi translator were killed.
Roughly 4,000 U.S. troops aided by 2,000 Iraqis have been scouring farmland in the area south of Baghdad to try to find their missing comrades.
Islamic State in Iraq claims kidnappings
Although the al Qaeda-led Islamic State in Iraq claimed to have been responsible for their abductions, there was no proof they were holding the three men.
A police officer in Musayyib, speaking anonymously to Reuters, said Iraqi police located the man's body after being tipped off by local residents.
In an e-mail to the Associated Press, the U.S. military said it was looking into reports about the discovery of the body, but would not confirm it.
Last Friday, commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus told the Army Times newspaper "we thought there were at least two [missing soldiers] that were probably still alive."
"At one point in time there was a sense that one of them might have died, but again we just don't know," he said in the interview.