New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 6, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas
US military hits back against insurgents in western Iraq
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — U.S. Malines and Iraqi troops pounded insurgents with bombs and tank cannons Friday during a major offensive along a stretch of the Euphrates River valley where 22 Marines were killed this week.
About 800 U.S. Marines and 180 Iraqi soldiers moved into I laqlaniyah, one of a cluster of western towns in Anbar province around the I laditha Dam that is believed to be a stronghold of Iraqi insurgents and foreign fighters.
I leavy Abrams tanks battled insurgents armed with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, while U.S. jets destroyed at least four buildings — two of which were found boobytrapped with explosives, a U.S. military statement said.
“The wires were connected to numerous 155-mm artillery rounds scattered throughout both buildings,” the military said.
Operation Quick Strike is tile third major campaign since May aimed at rooting out insurgents and foreign fighters in the Euphrates valley, which is believed to lie a major infiltration route for extremists entering Iraq from Syria.
On Wednesday, 14 Marines and a civilian translator were killed near Haditha when a huge roadside bomb wrecked their lightly armored vehicle. Two days earlier, six Marine snipers died in a firefight with insurgents. The Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sunnah claimed its men staged both attacks.
Two other Marines have died in Anbar this week—one from a car bomb, the other from small arms fire.
Residents said U.S. and Iraqi troops had cordoned off Ilaqlaniyah, about 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, and were searching house to house. American warplanes prowled overhead and a number of heavy explosions were heard.
Witnesses said 500-pound bombs were being dropped in the area.
The U.S. military has defended its operations in western Iraq, insisting it is reducing insurgent attacks despite the nearly two dozen Marine deaths this week. As of Thursday, at least 1,826 U.S. military personnel had died since the beginning of the Iraq war.
Iraq’s leading Shiite Muslim cleric, meanwhile, signaled he wants Islam as the foundation of the country’s legal system, setting the stage for a showdown next week as politicians struggle to finish the draft of a constitution by the Aug. 15 deadline.
In the holy city of Najaf, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaa-fari conferred with Shiite religious leaders, who wield strong influence among Iraq’s majority Shiite population.
IXiring the meetings, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani told al-Jaafari that he would like the constitution to enshrine Islam as the main source of legislation, the prime minister said.
“Ayatollah al-Sistani does not want to impose dictation on drafting the constitution, but according to my knowledge, he hopes that Islam becomes the main source of legislation,” al-Jaafari said.
The role of Islam in the constitution has been one of the major sources of contention among the committee drafting the charter. Designating Islam as the main source of law is opposed by Kurds and some Iraqi women, who fear a major rollback of their rights.
The prime minister said al-Sistani also indicated he would not oppose a federal system for Iraq. That is hotly opposed by Sunni Arabs, who fear it would break up the country. But Kurds strongly support federalism so they can continue the self-rule they have enjoyed in the north since 1991.
Thank you for your service
Outdoorsman Keith Warren, left, and his daughter, Mattisyn, listen as Marine Sgt. Daniel Gilyeat of Kansas City talks about how he was injured in the Middle East. Gilyeat was attached to the 2nd MP Battalion and participated in clearing roads of improvised explosive devices when his vehicle ran over a double-stacked tank mine July 3. Warren hosted a barbecue Thursday to thank the ser-vicemembers recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center.
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