Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New Iraq offensive targets al-Qaida stronghold

BAGHDAD - A new U.S.-backed operation has begun in Iraq's volatile Diyala province, military officials said Tuesday.

Iraqi commander Gen. Ali Ghaidan said the offensive is aimed at clearing al-Qaida in Iraq militants from what's considered the last major insurgent stronghold near Baghdad.

The U.S. military in northern Iraq also confirmed that the offensive was under way.

The operation has been dubbed "Omens of Prosperity." It is the latest in a series of efforts to control the largely rural area.

But U.S. and Iraqi commanders have said they're more optimistic this one can work because more troops will be involved and Iraqi security forces are better prepared.