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US Launches Attacks in Iraq, Killing 22

US-led forces launched operations in three Iraqi rebel strongholds Thursday, killing nearly two dozen insurgents in a town near the Syrian border and bombing targets in Falluja for the third straight day. 

Troops mounted a major offensive in Tal Afar, a suspected haven for foreign fighters about 100 kilometers east of the Syrian border in northern Iraq, and went into the tense town of Samarra north of Baghdad, as well as keeping up pressure on Falluja, west of the capital, through air strikes.


The fighting in Tal Afar killed 22 insurgents and wounded more than 70 people, a local official said.


"The situation is critical," Rabee Yassin, general manager for health in Nineveh Province, said. "Ambulances and medical supplies cannot get to Tal Afar because of the ongoing military operations."


There were no immediate reports of any US or Iraqi government casualties in the fighting which local government sources said had killed 57 since Saturday.


US forces said the assault was in response to provocation after they and Iraqi security forces "were repeatedly attacked by a large terrorist element that has displaced local Iraqi security forces."


"These attacks by terrorist groups included rocket-propelled grenades, small arms fire, mortars and roadside bombs, and resulted in civilian casualties," the military said.


Further south, US warplanes bombed rebel-held Falluja for a third successive night. The US military said the assault was part of a "precision strike" on an operating base for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant Washington says is allied to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.


"The target was a building frequently used by terrorists," the statement said.


Embassy threatened


Jordan's embassy in Baghdad will remain open despite threats that appeared on an Islamic militant website against Turkey and Jordan, Jordan's Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday in Amman.


"Our embassy is there and will remain to serve the interests of our relations with Iraq and the Iraqi people," Ali Al-Ayed said.


Earlier this week, a statement on the website signed the "Islamic Brigades of al-Hussein" said Jordan and Turkey would suffer "painful" consequences for working with US-led forces in Iraq and demanded both countries close their embassies and leave Iraq.


(China Daily September 10, 2004)

US Jets Pound Insurgent Areas in Fallujah
US Military Death Toll in Iraq Passes 1,000
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