About 450 US Marines and Iraqi soldiers have launched a new military offensive in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi to hunt insurgents and search for weapons caches, the US military said on Monday.
"Approximately 150 Iraqi soldiers and 300 US Marines and Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Marine Division, began Operation Bruins in northern Ramadi on Nov. 19," the military said in a statement.
The new offensive is part of a series of operations in Ramadi where the US-Iraqi forces are conducting "cordon and searches, blocking off known terrorist escape routes and searching for weapons caches," the statement added.
Ramadi, a Sunni-dominated city some 100 km west of Baghdad, has been an insurgent stronghold.
The new offensive followed a battle on Thursday when US soldiers killed 32 insurgents in downtown Ramadi, the statement said.
Attacks against US and Iraqi forces in the Ramadi area "have decreased 60 percent in the last few weeks as a result of these ongoing operations," the statement added.
On Sunday, the US military announced the end of its Operation Steel Curtain in western Anbar province, in which some 3,500 US and Iraqi soldiers raided insurgent safe houses near the Syrian border since Nov. 5.
Operation Steel Curtain was aimed at restoring security and eradicating al-Qaida fighters in western Iraq, according to the US military.