U.S.-Iraqi Forces Launch Major Operation

More than 3,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops launched an operation in the southern approaches to Baghdad on Tuesday, seizing a suspected insurgent training camp and capturing more than 160 alleged rebels, the U.S. military command said.

The force also took control of a bridge across the Euphrates River believed to be a favored corridor for insurgents moving into and out of key cities, including Baghdad and the Sunni rebel stronghold of Fallujah (search), a command release said.

The operation involved the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit as well as U.S. and Iraqi army troops and members of the Iraqi National Guard (search).

The release did not report any casualties taken or inflicted.

The mission, the release said, was to "assist Iraqi authorities in fostering security and stability for the nearly 900,000 citizens of the province" of Babil, located just south of the Iraqi capital.

The force punched west across the Euphrates in pursuit of insurgents, discovering numerous weapons caches and destroying 35,000 pounds of explosives.

The operation follows this weekend's capture of the rebel stronghold of Samarra (search), 60 miles north of Baghdad, by a joint U.S.-Iraqi force.