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US, Iraqi Forces Battle Insurgents in Western Iraq

  • VOA News

U.S. Marines and Iraqi forces began a major offensive Friday against insurgents in Iraq's western al-Anbar province, where 22 Marines were killed earlier this week. About 800 U.S. forces and 200 Iraqi troops deployed to the area, which officials say is a key route for weapons and foreign fighters entering the country from Syria. Coalition forces destroyed two buildings rigged with explosives in the town of Haqliniyah. And tanks fired on insurgents armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. Meantime, Iraq's Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari met the country's top Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, to discuss the draft constitution. Mr. al-Jaafari said the cleric expressed hope that Islamic law will become the main source of Iraqi legislation. In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked the Security Council for a one-year extension for a U.N. team of 260 civilian and military personnel in Iraq. The Council is expected to discuss Iraq next Tuesday.
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