US offensive along Syrian-Iraqi border: Three Americans, scores of gunmen killed
Some 80 Iraqi resistance fighters and three American soldiers have been reportedly killed since Monday when US and Iraqi troops launched a new offensive at the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Obeidi, believed to be a transit point for fighters entering Iraq. One Marine died Tuesday from wounds sustained the day before, the US military said. Two other Marines were killed Monday.
In Baghdad on Tuesday, four people were killed, including two Iraqi police officers, when a car bomb exploded near a restaurant where a group of Iraqi police were eating breakfast. In attacks aimed at Iraqi police Tuesday, gunmen opened fire on a police patrol in Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, killing four, while a roadside bomb a few miles away killed two more police officers, Col. Shirzad Mursi said. The son of an Iraqi contractor was also killed, he added, according to the AP.
On Monday, a car bomb exploded near the entrance to Iraq's "Green Zone" where many foreign offices are located, including that of the United Nations. Two South Africans who worked for a US State Department security contractor were killed in the blast. Seven other people were wounded in the two explosions, according to the AP.
The Obeidi operation, which included at least five separate US aerial attacks, came despite warnings from Sunni leaders that such a move might discourage voter turnout in Iraq's upcoming December elections. "Approximately 80 insurgents are estimated to have been killed in sporadic but heavy fighting," a US source reported.
On Monday, Iraq's Sunni vice president Ghazi Al Yawer called to halt the operations, saying, "These military operations have gone too far and have a negative impact on the country's politics."
However, the Bush administration maintains that such operations will prevent attacks on voters and ensure favorable turnout.
US forces are likely to establish long term presence along the Syrian-Iraqi border, unlike in previous sweeps along the Euphrates Valley, in the hopes of a strong Sunni turnout in the December parliamentary elections.
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)