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Air Force Fighters Strike Insurgents in Operation Steel Curtain

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2005 – U.S. Air Force F-15s, F-16s and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles made air strikes against insurgent fighters near the Iraq-Syria border Nov. 14 in support of Operation Steel Curtain.

After ground forces with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, swept into Ubaydi, Iraq, a town near Karabilah, and came in contact with enemy fighters, F-15s were called in and delivered precision-guided bombs against enemy forces in a grove of trees. A Predator fired a Hellfire missile at a building from where enemy forces were shooting and successfully drove them from their location.

Later that day, F-16s and a Predator responded to provide ground support in the same area. The Predator successfully launched a Hellfire missile against insurgents entrenched in a tree line.

The intent of Operation Steel Curtain is to restore Iraqi sovereign control along the Iraq-Syria border and destroy the al Qaeda terrorists operating throughout the Qaim region, officials said. The towns of Husaybah and Karabilah were cleared earlier in the operation, which began Nov. 5, and a permanent security presence has been established in those towns. About 1,000 Iraqi army soldiers and 2,500 U.S. Marines, soldiers and sailors are participating in Operation Steel Curtain.

Officials suspect that many of terrorists now fighting in Ubaydi fled from Husaybah and Karabilah, the first two cities secured by Iraqi and coalition Forces at the beginning of the operation.

While the fighting has been sporadic, commanders on the ground have characterized the operation as some of the heaviest since Operation Steel Curtain began. Intelligence reports indicate that the strong resistance to the Iraqi and coalition push into the city is due in large part to the fact that terrorists believe they are trapped and have nowhere else to go.

Ubaydi is located on the banks of the Euphrates River, 20 kilometers from the Syrian border.

(From a U.S. Central Command Air Forces Forward news release.)

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