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US Military Begins Major Offensive Across Iraq

13 August 2007

The U.S. military began a major offensive across Iraq Monday, to crack down on extremist militants.

A military statement says Operation Phantom Strike "consists of simultaneous operations throughout Iraq focused on terrorists and Iranian-supported" extremists.

Earlier, officials said coalition forces had killed several militants and captured 13 alleged Iranian-linked arms smugglers in a pre-dawn raid Sunday on Baghdad's Shi'ite Sadr City district.

The military statement said coalition forces also destroyed a truck during the raid, "killing an estimated three to five" suspected terrorists.

On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for a meeting of Iraqi political leaders to try to resolve divisions that have deadlocked the government.

He said the leaders of Iraq's sectarian factions could begin meeting late Monday or Tuesday.

Mr. Maliki formed a unity government of Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions in 2006 to try to reduce Iraq's sectarian violence. But the government has been paralyzed by boycotts and infighting along ethnic and sectarian lines.

U.S. officials say achieving national political reconciliation and passing key legislation are essential for ending the country's insurgency.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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