US bombers and fighters dropped 40,000 pounds of explosives on al-Qaeda stronghold Arab Jabour, an agricultural area just north of Baghdad. The 10-minute strike flattened 40 targets ahead of ground troops as part of Operation Phantom Phoenix, a new offensive against al-Qaeda, the AP reports. Nine US troops have been killed since the operation began Tuesday, including six in one booby-trapped house in Diyala province, also north of Baghdad.
Phantom Phoenix is a nationwide effort, but its main focus is Diyala, where al-Qaeda has fled since being driven from Anbar, declaring the city of Baqouba the capital of its self-styled Islamic caliphate. Only Baghdad is bloodier than Diyala, and Diyala has gotten worse as Baghdad has grown safer. Excluding today’s strike, 20-30 insurgents have been killed since Tuesday.