Archive for Sunday, June 19, 2005

U.S., Iraqi forces mount major offensive

June 19, 2005

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— Helicopter gunships and fighter jets streaked across the desert sky Saturday as American and Iraqi forces battled insurgents near the Syrian border, killing at least 50 militants in two massive offensives to stanch the flow of foreign fighters.

The U.S. military reported the deaths of two American soldiers, killed north of Baghdad during an attack as they were taking a captive to jail.

Intelligence officials believe Iraq's western Anbar province is the main entry point used by extremist groups, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida in Iraq, to smuggle in foreign fighters. Syria is under pressure from Washington and Baghdad to tighten control of its porous 380-mile border with Iraq.

About 50 insurgents have been killed since the operation began, Marine Capt. Jeffrey Pool said from Ramadi, the provincial capital. Three U.S. troops have been wounded and about 100 insurgents have been captured, the military said.

At least 1,719 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an AP count.

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