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US, Iraqi Forces Launch New Offensive in Western Iraq

01 October 2005

The U.S. military has launched a new operation in western Iraq to root out foreign fighters and insurgents who cross the border from Syria.

The U.S. military says about 1,000 Marines, soldiers and sailors began the offensive early Saturday in the town of Sadah, about 12 kilometers from the Syrian border.

Insurgent groups have threatened to derail the October 15 national referendum on the new constitution, and the military says it hopes clearing the area of such elements will improve security for the vote.

Meanwhile, near Baghdad, the U.S. military released 500 prisoners from Abu Ghraib prison as a goodwill gesture ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins next week.

Also Saturday, the U.S. military reports two American soldiers were killed in separate incidents in Baghdad and Bayji. And a Danish soldier was killed and two were wounded in Basra.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.

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