BAGHDAD (AFP) — The US military said on Friday it had renewed its air blitz on Al-Qaeda targets south of Baghdad, dropping bombs on sites it said were training camps for the jihadist network.
The air strikes were part of Operation Phantom Phoenix, a major assault launched on January 8 by US and Iraqi forces on Al-Qaeda, considered by US commanders to be the greatest threat to stability in Iraq.
A military statement said that on Wednesday 10,000 pounds (4,500 kilos) of munitions were dropped on bunkers in Arab Jabour, a Sunni rural area on the southern outskirts of the capital, reportedly used by Al-Qaeda to train recruits.
"Air Force B-1 Bombers dropped 19 GBU-31s (guided bomb units) on the site," it said in Friday's statement.
Last week American warplanes dropped 47,500 pounds of explosives in a 10-minute blitz on Arab Jabour in one of the heaviest aerial bombardments since the US-led invasion in 2003.
US commanders said 47 targets were hit in that raid, while an anti-Qaeda "Awakening" leader in Arab Jabour said that at least 21 Al-Qaeda fighters were killed. The US military did not mention casualties in its latest statement.
When Phantom Phoenix was launched, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, the US second-in-command in Iraq, said the operation aimed to "pursue and neutralise remaining Al-Qaeda in Iraq and other extremist elements."
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