Second day of Operation Saif meets with little resistance
American and Iraqi troops have so far encountered little resistance during the first days of Operation Saif, the latest in a series of offensives aimed at rooting out insurgents along the western Euphrates River.
“No major battles or air strikes have occurred during the course of the day’s operations. Basic utilities have not been disrupted nor has access to medical treatment for the citizens of Hit,” a U.S. military statement read Wednesday, referring to the city of about 100,000 residents where the action is taking place.
More than 1,000 Marines, sailors and soldiers assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2 are involved in the operation, officials have said. Some 100 soldiers from the Iraqi 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Division are involved in the mission.
The Iraqi company has assigned its platoons to different U.S. Marine and Army companies, officials said. Operation Saif (the Arabic word for “sword”) kicked off Tuesday, with the majority of searches taking place in Hit.
“Several” suspected insurgents have been detained so far and “large weapons cache sites” have been found by the troops, officials said.
Saif is at least the fourth offensive in the region in recent months. U.S. officials have repeatedly said the area is a haven for people smuggling fighters, money and weapons across the border from Syria. The region is a vast desert bounding the Euphrates, with large towns along the river.