Operation Swarmer photo courtesy of US Central Command
(Baghdad) Word is coming out of Iraq that the largest air and land campaign since the opening of hostilities in 2003 is happening today.
Called "Operation Swarmer," the operation is aimed at pockets of insurgents southeast of Samarra, and involves 1,500 US and Iraqi troops as well as "50 airborne platforms" dropping GPS-guided munitions.
Samarra was the site of a bombing attack last month on a Shi'ite shrine that set off sectarian reprisals and pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war.
"Initial reports from the objective area indicate that a number of enemy weapons caches have been captured, containing artillery shells, explosives, IED-(bomb) making materials, and military uniforms," said a statement from US military commanders at Central Command. "The operation is expected to continue for several days as a thorough search of the objective area is conducted."
Operation Swarmer began this morning with soldiers from the Iraqi Army's 1st Brigade, the 101st Airborne Division and the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade conducting a combined air and ground assault to isolate the objective area.
Addendum, 1:00 PM: In this photo released by the US military on Thursday March 16, 2006, US helicopters take off from Forward Operating Base Remagen for Operation Swarmer (AP Photo/ Sgt. First Class Antony Joseph, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)