Two thousand U.S. and Iraqi troops launched a large-scale assault on Sunni insurgents in Diyala province last night, pursuing militants who have moved their strongholds outside of Baghdad. The offensive in the province's capital, Baquba, is part of a much larger operation attacking centers of insurgency all over Iraq. Twenty-two fighters were killed yesterday, the military reports.
Today, troops cut off Western Baquba, where 300-500 al Qaeda fighters are holed up. Clearing the city is expected to be slow and dangerous, as insurgents have rigged it with huge buried bombs, explosives in houses, and machine gun nests. The larger attack in Iraq is code-named operation Arrowhead Ripper.