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Saturday, November 12, 2005

54 Bodies Found in Iraq Town after US Offensive-Doctor

An Iraqi Red Crescent doctor said on Saturday more than 50 bodies had been found in the rubble of a town near the Syrian border which U.S.-led troops swept through this week in an anti-insurgent offensive.

Around 2,500 U.S. troops and 1,000 Iraqi soldiers launched Operation Steel Curtain a week ago around the western town of Qusayba. They conducted house-to-house searches to root out insurgents and destroyed a number of houses in airstrikes.

The U.S. military says it has detained around 180 insurgents and killed at least 36 more in the operation, which was continuing in the nearby town of Karabila on Friday.

It said around 900 civilians who fled the town were given temporary housing nearby during the operation.

As residents started to trickle back to Qusayba in recent days, doctor Saif al-Ani, who works for the Red Crescent in the Qaim area, told Reuters they had unearthed at least 54 bodies in the rubble, including some women and children.

There was no immediate response from the U.S. military to questions about the casualties.

The military has said it made every effort to avoid civilian casualties. It reported an incident earlier this week in which it said five civilians were killed in a house after being taken hostage by insurgents who occupied the building.

The U.S. military has in the past accused doctors in western Iraq of misrepresenting civilian casualties after U.S. attacks.

Operation Steel Curtain was the latest in a series of offensives aimed at securing western Iraq against Sunni Arab insurgents and foreign fighters before a Dec. 15 election.

Copyright Reuters



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10:10 AM  

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