The U.S. Army has launched an offensive to capture weapons
from Sunni insurgents believed loyal to deposed President Saddam Hussein.
The offensive has focused on Faluja, the center of Sunni unrest in
western Iraq. On Sunday, army troops, tanks and helicopters raided suspected
insurgency strongholds in the city, 50 kilometers west of Baghdad, Middle East Newsline reported.
The U.S. operation, called Spartan Scorpion, has been described as a
crackdown to seize unauthorized weapons and insurgents throughout Iraq. More
than 1,300 U.S. troops from the army's 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade
are participating in the Faluja operation, regarded as the first stage of
the campaign. Other Iraqi towns were also raided over the weekend.
Officials said the insurgency strongholds in Faluja included 16
buildings where Sunni insurgents were said to have stockpiled weapons for
use against U.S. forces. They said the operation had been timed to take
place within hours after the termination of an amnesty for Iraqis who agreed
to surrender heavy weapons.
"We wanted to focus on the people providing the resources and the
command and control, and I think we did that," Col. David Perkins, commander
of the 2nd Brigade, said.
Later, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard
Myers, said five Iraqi groups are behind the anti-U.S. attacks. Myers said
all of the groups are believed connected to the deposed Ba'ath Party.
The army operation was the second in a week in western Iraq. Last week,
the Third Division launched Operation Peninsula Strike in an attempt to
flush out Sunni insurgents.
About 400 people were said to have been captured. They included former
Over the weekend, the U.S. military continued to sustain insurgency
strikes. Iraqi gunners fired mortars that struck the headquarters of the
U.S. military in Ramadi, west of Baghdad.
Near Balad, north of Baghdad, Sunni insurgents ambushed a U.S. convoy on
Sunday. Several U.S. soldiers were injured.