BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. and Iraqi forces secured the town of Husaybah after four days of fighting along the Syrian border and neutralized Al Qaeda-led terrorists there, the Marine commander said Tuesday.
"The city of Husaybah has been cleared and is secure at this time," Col. Stephen W. Davis told The Associated Press by telephone. "Right now we are not getting any reports of resistance within the city" although pockets of fighters may reappear, he said.
About 2,500 U.S. troops and 1,000 Iraqi soldiers on Saturday began the assault on Husaybah, described as a major entry point for foreign fighters coming from Syria bound for Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.
One of the goals of the operation, known as "Steel Curtain," was to break the hold of Al Qaeda and its Iraqi allies in the area before next month's elections, in which Iraqis will choose a new parliament.
One U.S. Marine was killed during weekend in the operation, U.S. officials said. The military said earlier this week that at least 36 terrorists had been killed since the assault began.
Davis said coalition forces have detained more than 150 military-aged men and they were being screened. He said three terrorists — two Saudis and a Kuwaiti — were killed by Iraqi troops Sunday when they tried to slip into a camp for displaced civilians dressed as women.
He said the Marines and Iraqis would establish a long-term presence in Husaybah to prevent terrorists from returning and would move on to other areas in the Euphrates Valley where Al Qaeda and their allies were believed holed up.
In a statement earlier Tuesday, the U.S. military said troops "continue to detain insurgents as they fight their way through the city."
"A number of the detainees have been foreign fighters who originated from various countries within Asia and Africa," the statement added.