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An additional brigade of Iraqi troops has arrived in eastern Ramadi to bolster the forces already in the restive capital of Anbar province, U.S. military officials said Tuesday.

The city, about 75 miles west of Baghdad, has long been one of the most violent in the country and U.S. military officials say the city is home to members of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s al-Qaida in Iraq network. In Tuesday’s announcement, the U.S. command said group members are “attempting to gain control of local towns, by using threat and intimidation tactics to enlist support for their terrorist cause.”

Ramadi has also been characterized as a base for insurgents mounting attacks in Baghdad, Fallujah and other cities along the Euphrates River Valley.

U.S. officials say the introduction of more Iraqi troops will improve the intelligence gathered on the ground.

“Their ability to gain factual information is paramount to fighting the insurgency,” Col. John L. Gronski, commander of the 2/28 Brigade Combat Team, said in a U.S. military news release. “These soldiers … do not run and hide from the insurgents. Since our arrival here in July 2005, we have seen the IA make tremendous strides towards securing the city of Ramadi.”

Before 2005, at least two other Iraqi units were brought into the area with little success. One of those units was disbanded shortly after the January 2005 elections, with another replacing it at camps in the eastern part of the city.

The 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division’s self-described mission is to protect the people of Ramadi from “the black hands of the insurgents that are shedding their blood,” a U.S. military press release quoted the unnamed brigade commander as saying.

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