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BAGHDAD — More than 500 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers have launched Operation Rams, the latest in a series of “disruption operations” targeting entrenched insurgents in the western Iraq city of Ramadi, the U.S. military said Monday.

It is the sixth in a series of operations designed to “neutralize the insurgency and set the conditions for a successful Dec. 15 election,” read a Marine Corps news release.

Some 100 soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Division and 400 U.S. soldiers from the 2/28th Brigade Combat Team are participating in the operation.

U.S. forces have met “limited and uncoordinated resistance” in the course of the six operations, U.S. officials said Monday. Ramadi has long been a stronghold of Sunni insurgents in western Iraq; officials have speculated that hundreds of fighters slipped into the city after U.S. forces fought through Fallujah last November.

Last week, in what the U.S. military essentially called a publicity stunt, dozens of masked and armed insurgents roamed the downtown streets and set up at least one vehicle checkpoint, distributing leaflets and al-Qaida in Iraq propaganda.

While not releasing specific numbers, the military said the six Ramadi operations have “resulted in the detention of dozens of insurgent cell members and the discovery and subsequent destruction of multiple weapons caches.”

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