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US, Iraqi Troops Fight House-To-House On Syria Border

A picture released by the US Marines 06 November 2005 shows Marines looking over a rooftop at the source of enemy fire during Operation Steel Curtain in the Kusayibah at the Iraqi-Syrian border in western Iraq. US and Iraqi forces pressing an along the border with Syria have met "sporadic resistance" from insurgents, the US military. Some 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and a force of 2,500 marines, sailors and soldiers launched a sweep called Operation Steel Curtain earlier in the day, focusing on the border with Syria. AFP photo/HO/USMC/CPL Neil A. Sevelius.

Baghdad (AFP) Nov 06, 2005
US and Iraqi forces fought house-to-house on the second day of their sweep of the restive western Iraqi town of Husayba, on the border with Syria, the US military said late Sunday.

"The combined force is clearing the city, house by house, as the Al-Qaeda in Iraq-led insurgents continue to plant improvised explosive devices throughout the city and fire on the marines and Iraqi army soldiers," the military said in a statement.

Some 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and a force of 2,500 marines, sailors and soldiers launched a sweep called Operation Steel Curtain early Saturday focusing on the upper Euphrates town of Husayba in the restive province of Al-Anbar.

The goal is to secure the city and prevent forces from Al-Qaeda in Iraq from using it as an entry point into Iraq.

There were no reports of military or civilian casualties, but the military said that at least 17 alleged insurgents had been killed since the operation began.

"Many more are suspected of being killed, but coalition forces haven't been able to confirm those numbers yet," the military said in a statement.

"When locked buildings are encountered, forces typically cut the lock to gain entry for their search. Instructions to submit damages claims resulting from searches are left at the building for owners."

Insurgents fired on Iraqi soldiers and marines from mosques in two separate incidents on Sunday, and in both cases, Iraqi soldiers searched the sites. The insurgents however "had cleared the buildings before the Iraqi soldiers arrived on the scene."

Warplanes also hit 10 targets "using precision-guided munitions" to hit the target "while limiting collateral damage."

"There have been no reports of civilian casualties or of civilians leaving the region due to the operation," the military said.

Until recently Husayba had a population of some 30,000, but most residents are believed to have fled. The Iraqi troops and marines are currently housing and feeding some 450 local civilians.

The US military has long held that the most serious terrorist acts in Iraq are conducted by Al-Qaeda operatives from abroad that cross from Syria via the Euphrates valley.

US authorities have repeatedly accused Syrian authorities of allowing rebels, including those associated with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Al-Qaeda group in Iraq, to use their territory as a staging post and a safe haven.

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Washington (UPI) Nov 05, 2005
One day late in the Vietnam war, a senator called his defense staffer into his office. Like too many senators (though neither of the two I worked for), the distinguished legislator depended entirely upon his staff but treated them like peons.

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