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U.S. Launches Offensive Near Iraq's Syrian Border

17 June 2005 -- The U.S. military says it has launched a major offensive against insurgents and foreign fighters near Iraq's northern border with Syria.

A statement says "Operation Spear" involved 1,000 Marines and Iraqi troops near Karabilah, where the military killed 40 insurgents last on 11 June.

In other Iraqi developments, a deal has been reached for minority Sunni Arabs to participate in a panel that will draft a new constitution.

President Jalal Talabani gave details of the agreement yesterday.

"The number that has been agreed upon, as I heard, is 15 [Sunni] representatives and 10 consultants. But we have to underline one thing and that is the number is not very important because the decisions are taken by consensus," Talabani said.

Also yesterday, the U.S. military announced that it had captured Mohammed Khalif Shaiker. The military says Shaiker is a top military aide to Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian considered the leader of the insurgency.


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