11 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Thousands of Iraqi soldiers, backed by U.S. troops, are conducting house-to-house searches in Tal Afar, an Iraqi city close to the Syrian border that is believed to be an insurgent stronghold.
A U.S. military statement today said 41 suspected insurgents were detained after Iraqi and U.S. forces swept into Tal Afar yesterday. In the past 15 days, 211 terror suspects were captured and 141 killed during an offensive in the area.
A U.S. military spokesman, H.R. McMasters, said that while several hundred insurgents using small arms initially put up stiff resistance in one of the city's districts yesterday, fighting quickly died down. He said the joint Iraqi-U.S. force found the area nearly deserted, once shooting died down.
Most of Tal Afar's 200,000 residents fled to the countryside before the military operation began.
Late yesterday, Iraqi authorities announced the closure of the Iraqi-Syrian border in a bid to block the flow of insurgent fighters to Iraq.
(AP/dpa)[For the latest news on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".]