Sunday, February 25, 2007

Report: Military prepares for spring offensive in Ramadi

A house search in Ramadi

THE US military is preparing for a spring offensive against Sunni insurgents and Al-Qaeda fighters in the lawless city of Ramadi as part of the troop surge to impose security in Iraq.

The Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki said yesterday that 400 suspected militants had already been killed by US and Iraqi security forces in Baghdad.

With the battle to secure the capital under way, the fight for control of Ramadi in Anbar province to the west will mark the second phase of the surge. The group Al-Qaeda in Iraq has exerted a grip on the city and terrorised sheikhs cooperating with the Americans.

President George Bush promised to send an extra 4,000 marines to Sunni-dominated Anbar when he announced the troop increase last month. According to defence sources, the battle for Ramadi is likely to begin around April, when the marines will be ready in strength.

“Ramadi is the last place to be sorted out,” said a senior defence source. “A lot of the sheikhs are already onside and it will be a much more straightforward operation than the battle for Baghdad.”

Read the rest at the Times of London

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