BAGHDAD ø Iraqi and U.S. troops targeted a hub for Al
Qaida-inspired fighters based in Syria in northern Iraq over the weekend.
Officials said units from the U.S. Army and Iraqi National Guard raided
the city of Tall Afar in an attempt to
destroy a haven for Islamic fighters from Syria. Officials said the force
included a battalion from the U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division as well as a
unit from the Iraqi National Guard.
"The city of Tall Afar has been a suspected haven for terrorists
crossing into Iraq from Syria," the U.S. military said in a statement.
The battle in Tall Afar, about 60 kilometers west of Mosul, lasted
throughout Sunday,, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said U.S. combat units and Iraqi forces, backed
by helicopters, battled insurgents for several hours before withdrawing from
During the battle, the coalition force employed attack helicopters, F-16
multi-role fighters and main battle tanks while the insurgents responded
with mortar and light arms gunfire. Witnesses said that on Sept. 4 snipers
struck a U.S. Army OH-58D Kiowa helicopter, which was forced to make an
emergency landing. At least 15 casualties were reported in Tall Afar.
Since July, the U.S. military has tried to halt the flow of insurgents
from Syria to Iraq. The military has conducted a sustained operation in the
Anbar province along the border with Syria to stop insurgents and weapons.
Iraqi and U.S. forces also attacked a Sunni insurgency stronghold in
Latifyah, south of Baghdad. Officials said 12 Iraqi security officers were
killed in the attack in which 500 insurgents were captured and a large
amount of rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and TNT was seized. There were
no reports that foreign fighters were captured.
[On Monday, at least six U.S. soldiers were killed in a car bombing next
to a military convoy outside Faluja. U.S. troops have not entered Faluja
Officials said the U.S. military has increased the use of Iraqi military
and security forces in counter-insurgency operations. They said the
performance of the Iraqi forces has improved, but they still could not carry
out independent operations.
On Sunday, Iraq announced the capture of a leading Saddam Hussein aide,
Izzet Eddin Al Douri, in the north. Iraqi officials said about 70 of Al
Douri's bodyguards were killed or injured in the operation. The United
States refused to confirm the report.