NEWS UPDATE: U.S. forces launch what military calls largest air assault since invasion

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA
Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. forces, joined by Iraqi troops, on Thursday launched the largest air assault since the U.S.-led invasion, targeting insurgent strongholds north of the capital, the military said.

“More than 1,500 Iraqi and Coalition troops, over 200 tactical vehicles, and more than 50 aircraft participated in the operation,” the military statement said of the attack designed to “clear a suspected insurgent operating area northeast of Samarra,” 60 miles north of Baghdad.

The military said the operation was expected to continue over several days against insurgent targets in Salahuddin province, where Samarra is a key city.

The province is a major part of the so-called Sunni triangle where insurgents have been active since shortly after the U.S.-led invasion three years ago. Saddam Hussein was captured in the province, not far from its capital, Tikrit.

Check back for updates on this developing story.