"Operation Matador" update
U.S. Punches Through Deserts in Iraq:
At least three Marines have been killed and fewer than 20 wounded in Operation Matador, one of the biggest U.S. offensives in Iraq since militants were driven from Fallujah six months ago, the U.S. military said.The Marines are hard at work, But so are the bad guys
U.S. forces said as many as 100 insurgents were killed in the first 48 hours of the operation many of them trapped under rubble as fighter jets and helicopter gunships pounded the remote desert region. But Marine commanders told The Chicago Tribune that resistance had been unexpectedly intense.
Gunmen kidnapped the provincial governor Tuesday and told his family he would be released when U.S. forces withdraw from Qaim, the town 200 miles west of Baghdad where the offensive began late Saturday.This guy has only been governor for 4 days.
Gov. Raja Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi was seized as he drove from Qaim to the provincial capital of Ramadi on Tuesday morning, his brother, Hammad, told The Associated Press.
The kidnappers later telephoned the family and said he would only be released when U.S. forces pull out of the Syrian border town, Hammad Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi said.
Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, said: "We don't respond to insurgent or terrorist demands."
Qaim is a big training ground for the bad guys.
There are reports that these people are in uniforms, in some cases are wearing protective vests, and there's some suspicion that their training exceeds what we have seen with other engagements further east," he said.By all accounts so far this has been a great success.
Intelligence reports indicated insurgents were using the vast region, a known smuggling route, as a staging area where foreign fighters crossing into Iraq from Syria received weapons and equipment for attacks in the key cities of Baghdad, Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul, U.S. Marine spokesman Capt. Jeffrey Pool said.