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Operation Steel Curtain Continues in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Iraq, Nov. 11, 2005 – An estimated 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and 2,500 U.S. Marines, soldiers and sailors with Regimental Combat Team 2 continue to clear the town of Karabilah of terrorists and weapons one week into Operation Steel Curtain, Multinational Force Iraq officials reported today.

The operation began Nov. 5 to restore Iraqi sovereign control along the Iraq-Syria border and destroy al Qaeda terrorists operating throughout Iraq's Qaim region.

Clearing Karabilah is slow and dangerous work because of the high concentration of hidden bombs in the city, officials said. Since the operation began, 67 mines and improvised explosive devices and 30 weapons caches have been discovered, officials said. These bombs are frequently placed in trash piles and buried in soft dirt. On some occasions, entire homes are rigged with explosives -- a relatively new terrorist tactic, officials said.

Today, coalition troops found a home booby-trapped with a 60-pound explosive charge and 10 large explosive rounds. Due to the danger posed by these explosives, they were destroyed in place, officials reported.

Residents are being to return to their homes now that Iraqi and U.S. troops have secured Husaybah, officials said. The displaced persons camp guarded and run by Iraqi soldiers for the past week to provide food, water and shelter for the city's displaced citizens is emptying and expected to close soon.

Meanwhile, power and utilities are being restored throughout Husaybah. Local workers are repairing the city's power lines, and electricity is estimated to be restored to most of the city within 24 hours. Telephone service was restored Nov. 10.

Operation Steel Curtain is part of a larger offensive, Operation Hunter, designed to prevent al Qaeda in Iraq members from operating in the Euphrates River Valley and throughout Anbar province. It also aims to establish a permanent Iraqi army presence in the Qaim region, officials said.

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