U.S. military officials in Baghdad say offensive operations aimed at rooting
out insurgents targeting coalition forces will continue as long as they are necessary.
The U.S. missions are part of a new get-tough policy to confront Saddam loyalists
and foreign fighters operating in Iraq.
A spokesman for coalition military forces, Lieutenant Colonel George Krivo,
told reporters the new policy, known as "Operation Iron Hammer," may not be
a short-term mission.
"We expect these types of targeted, anti-terrorist operations will continue
and intensify as long as necessary," he said.
Operation Iron Hammer intensified Wednesday, signaling a more aggressive
U.S. strategy to go after insurgents waging a deadly guerrilla war across Iraq.
Using Bradley fighting vehicles and attack aircraft, U.S. forces in Baghdad
Wednesday destroyed a warehouse believed to have been an insurgent meeting
place, and chased nearly a dozen men attempting to set up a mortar position.
Two of the men were killed and several others were captured.
Air power has been used several times this month on insurgent targets. F-16
jets have dropped bombs on suspected sites in Fallujah and Tikrit, where two
American military helicopters were shot down. Lieutenant Colonel Krivo says
the military is identifying targets, mostly with the help of local Iraqis who
are providing U.S. troops with valuable intelligence.
U.S. forces are also clamping down on security around the so-called green
zone in Baghdad where the Coalition Provisional Authority is headquartered.
A major bridge that connects the green zone to southern Baghdad, has been
closed indefinitely, following reports that insurgents used the bridge to launch
mortar attacks against the Coalition Authority headquarters earlier this week.
The bridge, which had been sealed off to the public since April, reopened
with much fanfare only two weeks ago.
Coalition official blame the spiraling violence, which has claimed nearly
60 coalition troops since the beginning of the month, on Saddam loyalists,
foreign fighters and criminals, who are seeking to damage reconstruction efforts
and to drive coalition forces out of Iraq.