Iraq: New offensive near Syria border as two US troops die
US and Iraqi forces launched a major offensive Saturday near the Syrian border aimed at destroying al-Qaeda in Iraq's ability to smuggle in foreign fighters, money and equipment through the region.
The U.S. military also announced that two troops died in other areas of Iraq on Friday.
According to the AP, the offensive in the town of Husaybah of about 2,500 U.S. forces and 1,000 Iraqis will aim at removing gunmen from the western province of Anbar ahead of next month Iraqi parliamentary election, the U.S. army stated.
In nearby town of Qaam, a witness said the offensive in Husaybah started about dawn with four loud blasts. Husaybah is located near the Euphrates River.
The US military statement said al-Qaeda in Iraq has used the Husaybah region for its smuggling operations. "Operation Steel Curtain marks the first large-scale employment of multiple battalion-sized units of Iraqi army forces in combined operations with coalition forces in the last year," the military said.
Elsewhere, a U.S. soldier was killed by small-arms fire south of the capital on Friday, the military said. Another soldier died the same day when the vehicle in his patrol was hit by a mine near Habaniyah, 50 miles west of Baghdad, the U.S. command said.
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