U.S. forces in Iraq have launched a major offensive against Al Qaeda fighters in Baquba, North of Baghdad.
Thousands of troops with extensive air support are mounting one of the largest military operations since the invasion in 2003.
Military officials said the operation is designed to clear out Sunni insurgents, Al Qaeda fighters and Shite Militia men who fled Baghdad and Anbar province.
“They have changed their tactics. They are much more afraid of us now. It’s a policy of disengagement almost. They hear us coming and they run,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Baker of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.
So far the U.S. military reports at least 22 insurgents killed and many more arrested.
The offensive comes as the military completes its buildup of $30,000 additional troops in Iraq.