US launches offensive around Baghdad
he US military, which just days ago completed its latest troop buildup in Iraq, has launched a large offensive operation in several al-Qaeda strongholds around Baghdad, the top US commander said Saturday.
Gen David Petraeus said the operation began in the last 24 hours, and will put forces into key areas surrounding Baghdad that, according to intelligence, al-Qaeda is using to base some of it car bomb operations.
Petraeus, who met with Defence Secretary Robert Gates at a morning breakfast, also said that while he doesn't have all the American troops he might want, he knows he's got all he's going to get.
"There's never been a military commander in history who wouldn't like to have more of something or other that characterises all of us here," he told reporters travelling with Gates. "The fact is frankly that we have all that our country is going to provide us in terms of combat forces. That is really it right now."
He said the buildup of nearly 30,000 additional forces that has just been completed allowed him to launch the latest assault. The move, he said, is allowing him to send operations for the first time into "a number of areas around Baghdad, in particular to go into areas that were sanctuaries in the past of al-Qaeda."