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Two Marines Killed in Steel Curtain Operations

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2005 – Two Marines died from wounds suffered while participating in Operation Steel Curtain in New Ubaydi, Iraq, on Nov. 14. Both were assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

One Marine died today of wounds suffered Nov. 14 during an improvised-explosive-device attack. The second Marine died Nov. 14 of wounds from small-arms fire.

The Marines' names are being withheld pending notification of their families.

Iraqi army soldiers and U.S. Marines, soldiers and sailors with Regimental Combat Team 2 continued Operation Steel Curtain in the town of Ubaydi today. Iraqi and coalition forces continue to clear the city house by house, occasionally encountering buildings rigged with explosives and triggered to detonate upon entering the building, officials said.

Numerous weapons caches have been seized, including several that contained suicide vests and bomb-making material. Iraqi and coalition forces also have discovered numerous IEDs and mines during the operation. Detained terrorists revealed the precise locations of many of the IEDs, the vast majority of which coalition forces destroyed before they could cause damage, officials said.

Thirty more terrorists have been killed since Nov. 14, bringing the total of terrorists killed since Iraqi and coalition forces entered the city early Nov. 14 to 80. Most of those terrorists were targeted by coalition air strikes, though some were killed in direct small-arms fire engagements with Iraqi and coalition forces. Several enemy fighters were captured trying to sneak out of the area by crawling among a flock of sheep.

Thirty-six weapons caches have been found and destroyed and a total of 107 IEDs and mines discovered during the course of Steel Curtain. Also about 150 terrorists have been detained since the beginning of operations Nov. 5.

Many of the terrorists now fighting in Ubaydi are believed to have fled from Husaybah and Karabala, the first two cities secured by Iraqi and coalition forces at the beginning of the operation, Multinational Force Iraq officials said. While fighting has been sporadic, commanders on the ground have characterized it as some of the heaviest since 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 and separated into two main areas, Old and New Ubaydi. Old Ubaydi has been cleared, and now Iraqi army and coalition forces are focusing on clearing the al Qaeda in Iraq stronghold of New Ubaydi.

The intent of Steel Curtain is to restore Iraqi sovereign control along the Iraq-Syria border and destroy the al Qaeda network operating throughout the Qaim region, officials said. The towns of Husaybah and Karabala were cleared earlier in the operation, 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 Steel Curtain.

This offensive is part of the larger Operation Hunter, designed to establish a permanent Iraqi army presence in the Qaim region and to prevent al Qaeda from operating in the Euphrates River Valley and throughout Anbar province.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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