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US Airstrikes Hit Al Qaeda South Of Baghdad

From a distraught Associated Press:

US launches airstrike south of Baghdad

By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer

ZAMBARANIYAH, Iraq – U.S. bombers and jet fighters unleashed 40,000 pounds of explosives on the southern outskirts of Baghdad within 10 minutes Thursday in one of the biggest airstrikes of the war, flattening what the military called safe havens for al-Qaida in Iraq.

The massive attack, carried out above approaching U.S. and Iraqi troops, was part of Operation Phantom Phoenix, a nationwide campaign launched Tuesday against al-Qaida in Iraq.

Maj. Alayne Conway, a spokeswoman for troops in the Multi-National Division-Center, which controls the broad swath of territory south of Baghdad, said the amount of ordnance dropped in 10 minutes nearly exceeded what had been dropped in that region in any month since the U.S. military surge began in earnest in June 2007.

Conway said the air attack “was one of the largest airstrikes since the onset of the war” in March 2003.

The air raid was followed by a ground attack that led to 12 arrests and the discovery of two houses used to torture kidnap victims, according to an Iraqi army officer. He said the troops faced no resistance.

By nightfall, U.S. troops had advanced to Zambaraniyah, a farming village nine miles southeast of the capital and at the edge of the region that was heavily bombed.

A military statement said two B-1 bombers and four F-16 fighters dropped the bombs on 40 targets in Arab Jabour in 10 strikes. Al-Qaida fighters are believed to control Arab Jabour, a Sunni district lined with citrus groves and scarred by daily violence.

“Thirty-eight bombs were dropped within the first 10 minutes, with a total tonnage of 40,000 pounds,” the statement said.

The Iraqi army officer, whose unit is in the Arab Jabour area, said the airstrikes began at 8 a.m. and led to the burning of several citrus groves and the destruction of two houses used by gunmen. He said soldiers confiscated documents and weapons including AK-47s.

The army officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. But Sheik Mahmoud Kamil Shebib, a local Sunni leader who has turned against al-Qaida in Iraq, independently gave a similar account…

Hertling said his troops had killed 20-30 insurgents in the first two days of the operation. It was unknown how many were killed in Thursday’s strike…

Good.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, January 10th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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