'Surgical' U.S. Raids Go on South of Baghdad

"BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Thousands of U.S. troops and Iraqi forces pursued a campaign of raids on suspected guerrilla bases in Sunni Muslim towns and villages south of Baghdad on Wednesday, the U.S. military said.

Unlike this month's storming of Falluja, a rebel city to the west of the capital, there has been relatively little combat since the offensive began on Tuesday, but rather a series of raids in lawless towns where gunmen were until now in control.

'This is not a Falluja-like mass assault, marked by heavy fighting,' Captain David Nevers of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit told Reuters from a U.S. military base at Iskandariya, 50 km (30 miles) south of Baghdad.

'In the coming days, we will be conducting a multitude of very focused raids aimed at capturing or killing insurgents in our area. It is surgical rather than sweeping in nature,' Nevers said. 'It's characterized by precision, patience and persistence -- the keys to a successful counter-insurgency.'

Two weeks after launching the Falluja offensive, where U.S. forces said they killed 1,200 Sunni insurgents and took 1,000 prisoners, U.S. forces said they captured 32 suspects in dawn raids on Tuesday in an area that has become popularly known as the 'triangle of death' because of guerrilla and bandit attacks."


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