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After 17 days of sometimes-heavy fighting along the Iraq-Syria border, U.S. officials said Wednesday that Operation Steel Curtain has officially finished.

The offensive, which included the cities of Husaybah, Karabilah and Ubaydi, was a large-scale effort to “clear and hold” cities that have been insurgent strongholds for the past year.

Ten Marines were killed during the operation, many by booby traps or improvised bombs in the buildings they were clearing in house-to-house fighting. At least 139 suspected insurgents were killed, according to the Marines, and another 256 have been detained. The Iraqi troops were largely imported from other areas of the country for the operation.

The major difference between this and previous operations in the region, officials said, is that U.S. and Iraqi troops plan to stay. Several bases have been established in the cities in the hopes of preventing insurgents from returning.

The operation was also the first time large numbers of Iraqi soldiers had been used in combat in western Iraq. More than 1,000 Iraqi troops fought alongside thousands of U.S. Marines and soldiers during the operation.

“The porous Iraq-Syria border was identified as a main route for men, material and money to be transited into Iraq,” according to a release from the 2nd Marine Division, which is responsible for the region.

The offensive kicked off in Husaybah on Nov. 5 and was followed by operations in the other two cities and the Ramana region.


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