A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Major Attack Launched

AP: U.S.-Led Forces Strike al-Qaida Stronghold---

BAGHDAD, Iraq - About 3,500 U.S. and Iraqi troops backed by jets launched a major attack Saturday against an insurgent-held town near the Syrian border, seeking to dislodge al-Qaida and its allies and seal off a main route for foreign fighters entering the country.

U.S. officials describe the town of Husaybah as the key to controlling the volatile Euphrates River valley of western Iraq and dislodging al-Qaida in Iraq, led by Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The U.S.-led operation includes about 1,000 Iraqi soldiers, and the offensive will serve as a major test of their capability to battle the insurgents — seen as essential to enabling Washington to draw down its 157,000-strong military presence.

Thunderous explosions shook Husaybah early Saturday as U.S. Marines and Iraqi scouts, recruited from pro-government tribes from the area, fought their way into western neighborhoods of the town, 200 miles northwest of Baghdad, residents said.

As fighting continued throughout the day, U.S. jets launched at least nine airstrikes, according to a U.S. Marine statement. The U.S. command said there were no reports of casualties among American or Iraqi forces.