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U.S. and Iraqi forces wrapped up their latest foray in Ramadi this weekend, this time sending troops into the center of the town, U.S. officials said Sunday.

The operation, dubbed Gashshaar in Arabic and Skinner in English, included U.S. Marines, soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, and Iraqi army troops. Unlike the previous operations in and around Ramadi in recent weeks, the military did not release the number of troops involved.

Operation Skinner began Dec. 7 and is the seventh in a series of maneuvers designed to “set conditions in the city for successful elections Dec. 15,” the Marines said in a news release.

“The operation netted four weapons caches and several detainees, and also two command-initiated rocket systems designed to ambush passing convoys in central Ramadi.”

U.S. officials also said the troops had discovered a “bomb-making factory” in the main shopping district. That discovery yielded artillery and mortar rounds, timers and remote detonators, a Marine official said.

Sunday’s reports were the first pieces of information released about the operation. “Details concerning Operation Skinner were not provided earlier due to operational security,” the Marine release said.

Unlike the previous operations, which largely targeted areas on the fringes of the city, Skinner was aimed at the downtown area, which has long been an insurgent stronghold.

Less than 2 percent of eligible voters in Ramadi turned out for the previous two votes in the city, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad has said.


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