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U.S. Marines and Iraqi army troops continued an offensive near the Euphrates River Valley city of Hit this week, searching for weapons and insurgents along the suspected smuggling corridor from the Syrian border to Baghdad.

Operation Wadi Aljundi, or Koa Canyon in English, began Jan. 15 and involves some 1,000 members of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and the 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Division, officials said. The Marines belong to Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. Iraqi police are also involved, officials said. The forces are operating in an area between the Jubbah/Baghdadi region and the city of Hit.

There was no information Thursday on how many weapons caches the forces had recovered or if they had encountered any insurgents. Cities along the Euphrates River in western Iraq have been the sites of repeated offensives by U.S. forces seeking to destroy insurgent supply lines and safe havens.

In the most recent large-scale offensive, Operation Steel Curtain, the Marines had promised to stay and hold the towns they had cleared. The permanent presence would be made up of the Iraqi troops on the missions.

The 22nd MEU, a special operations capable unit, is under tactical control of the 2nd Marine Division.


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