|VOICE OF AMERICA|
SLUG: 2-324515 Iraq Offensive (L-O)
TITLE=IRAQ / OFFENSIVE (L-ONLY)
HEADLINE: US Forces Launch Offensive in Western Iraq
INTRO: U.S. forces have launched an offensive in Iraq's al-Anbar province, and report killing dozens of insurgents. Three U.S. Marines have also been killed in the area. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.
TEXT: U.S. military officials say the operation was launched Saturday
in an area where insurgents have been hiding. From Baghdad,
multi-national forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Michael Caldwell
provided some details.
/// CALDWELL ACT ///
"It is currently ongoing in an area north of the Euphrates River. It is
a known smuggling route and sanctuary for foreign fighters, and it is
aimed at eliminating the insurgents and foreign fighters from the area.
It is a large offensive, mostly Marines and sailors. It is a pretty
complex operation and they have been very successful so far."
/// END ACT ///
A reporter for the Chicago Tribune newspaper, who is traveling with the
U.S. forces, reports the operation was delayed by a counter-offensive by insurgents south of the river.
But the operations chief of the U.S. 2nd Marine Division, Colonel Bob Chase, says that counter-offensive was quickly defeated and the U.S. advance is continuing. In a telephone interview from northwestern Iraq, Colonel Chase said the operation involves well over one-thousand coalition troops, along with tanks and other armored vehicles, and both manned and unmanned aircraft. He says the operation is developing as it proceeds, based on documents the troops are finding and the interrogation of more than 20 captured insurgents.
/// CHASE ACT ///
"We have a pre-designated target set, that we have already identified, but we are finding very quickly that there are more targets available. And we are adjusting the plan on the fly as we get more viable targets and/or more lucrative targets that are being developed -- both the detainees and information that is being discovered as we attack our initial objectives."
/// END ACT ///
Colonel Chase says he expects the coalition offensive in northwestern Iraq to continue for several more days, with its total duration to be determined by how many new insurgent targets it finds. (Signed)
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