ChinaView – 2008-01-15 22:49:21
BEIJING (January 12, 2008) — US warplanes have launched their biggest air strike in Iraq since 2006. They bombarded date palm groves on Baghdad’s southern outskirts with more than 40-thousand pounds of bombs in a matter of minutes.
The US Airforce said two B-1 bombers and four F-16 fighter jets struck more than 40 al Qaeda targets in three zones of Arab Jabour, a lush district just south of the capital.
Colonel Peter Donnelly, US Air Force Commander, said, “Positive effects were achieved and the strikes were a successful element of Operation Marne Thunderbolt.”
The attack formed part of Operation Phantom Phoenix, a major countrywide offensive against al Qaeda guerrillas that U.S. forces announced this week. A spokesman said Thursday’s air strike was the biggest in Iraq since at least 2006. Large-scale air strikes have been rare in Iraq, especially over the past few months.
The operation launched this week shows a renewed determination by U.S. forces to use traditional combat power against a stubborn al Qaeda enemy.
Colonel Peter Donnelly, US Air Force Commander, said, “The goal is here to maintain a relentless pursuit on the enemy – on Al Qaeda – the extremists that are working in our specific battle space, to rid the area, to bring security not only to the Baghdad area but to south east Baghdad and the Arab Jabour region.”
The U.S. military says al Qaeda Sunni Arab militants have been driven out of most of the territory they once held in Iraq. But militants have regrouped in three provinces north of Baghdad and in palm groves on the capital’s southern outskirts.
Nine American soldiers were killed in 48 hours of the renewed offensive.
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