US and Iraqi forces finish purging Husayba of insurgents and terrorists after arresting 180 and killing 36 in their 5-day Operation Steel Curtain

The troops Wednesday cleared out roadside and car bombs and weapon caches. This was the latest offensive to secure the largely Sunni Anbar province on the Syrian border before Iraq’s December 15 national election. Al Qaeda in Iraq warned the Baghdad government Nov. 7 to halt the Husaybah offensive within 24 hours or see “the earth shake beneath its feet.”
Earlier, the US military reported killing two al Qaeda leaders responsible for deadly attacks, known as Abu Omar and Abu Hamza. debkafile Reports the operation followed Washington’s “clear, hold and build” strategy for cleansing western Iraq of terrorists articulated on Oct.19 by US secretary of state Condoleezza.
For this offensive against al Qaeda, 2,500 US Marines and 1,000 Iraqi troops are massed at Husayba, near al Qaim, one of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s key way stations for smuggling fighters, money and equipment from Syria. Last week, US aircraft bombed Husayba, killing 5 al Qaeda leaders. The new offensive follows on last month’s Iron Fist and River Gate operations which aimed at freeing the border province from al Qaeda’s control and intimidation.
debkafile‘s military sources report that the coalition’s “hold” on “cleared” locations is temporary for lack of manpower, while “building” is a vision that applies to Baghdad rather than the terrorist-infested al Anbar region. For now, the immediate objective is to curb terrorist and insurgent activity as far as possible for the December 15 general election. To this end, US military operations are focusing not only on al Qaeda sanctuaries around al Qaim but also across the border to choke off the traffic at source, their Syrian bases of departure.
All the same, although a Qaeda’s foreign fighters are under pressure, they continue to stream into western Iraq from Syria. Moreover, the deepening Iranian involvement in the Iraq war has not been publicly addressed except by the British in the south.
British commander of southern Iraq Maj. Gen Jim Dutton said Friday that insurgents are still getting weapons from the other side of the border – Iran

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