BAGHDAD, Iraq - About 1,000 U.S. service members launched an offensive in western Iraq near the Syrian border on Saturday aimed insurgents from this country's most feared militant group, al-Qaida in Iraq, the military said.
The operation against "a known terrorist sanctuary" began early Saturday in the town of Sadah in the western province of Anbar, about eight miles from the Iraq-Syrian border, the U.S. military said in a statement.
U.S. Marines, soldiers and sailors from Regimental Combat Team-2 took part in the offensive, named "Operation Iron Fist."
It is aimed at rooting out al-Qaida in Iraq insurgents and disrupting their support systems in and around the town, the military said.
In recent months, the statement said, the insurgents have established a base in Sadah and used it to launch attacks against Iraqi civilians and U.S. and Iraqi in the area.
The offensive also was aimed at stopping foreign insurgents from entering the country from Syria and at improving security in the area before Iraq's Oct. 15 national referendum on the country's draft constitution, the military said.