The US military says it has launched its biggest air offensive in Iraq since the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. More than 50 aircraft, 200 tactical vehicles and 1,500 Iraqi and US troops are involved in what has been named “Operation Swarmer.” Its aim is to root out insurgents near Samarra – the site of a bombing attack last month on a Shi’ite shrine that unleashed a wave of sectarian violence.
US forces say reports indicate weapons caches have been found, containing artillery shells, explosives, bomb-making materials and military uniforms. Several major offensives against Sunni Arab insurgents have been launched by the US military. So far they have failed to ease a raging guerrilla campaign.