RAMSTEIN, Germany (AP) – More than 70 U.S. soldiers from Iraq were flown Saturday to a military hospital in Germany, most of them wounded in the battle for Fallujah, officials said.

The 73 new patients at the U.S. military’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center pushed the number of arrivals this week to 412, nearly all injured in Fallujah, hospital spokeswoman Marie Shaw said. The number of beds at the hospital in rural western Germany has been increased to handle the wounded.

“This is more than we usually get,” said Erin Zagursky, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Air Force’s Ramstein base.

U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a ground assault for Fallujah late Monday after the city’s clerical leadership refused to hand over insurgents, including Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Military officials could not provide an exact number of wounded from Fallujah or the nature of their injuries. But Zagursky said 90 percent of Saturday’s arrivals were Army soldiers and Marines.

Landstuhl is the biggest U.S. military hospital overseas, and its doctors also treat soldiers with non-combat injuries and illnesses. It usually treats between 30 and 50 injured military personnel per day.

A C-141 transport brought the 60 latest patients from Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, to Ramstein on Saturday morning. Twenty-five of the patients had to be carried off on stretchers.

AP-ES-11-13-04 1158EST



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