BAGHDAD, Iraq “” The U.S. military launched a major combat operation Friday, sending 1,000 Marines and Iraqi soldiers to hunt for insurgents and foreign fighters in a volatile western province straddling Syria.
Operation Spear started in the pre-dawn hours in Anbar province to hunt for insurgents and foreign fighters, the military said. The area, which straddles the Syrian border, is where U.S. forces said it killed about 40 militants in airstrikes in Karabilah on June 11.
The operation came one day after Air Force Brig. Gen. Don Alston called the Syrian border the “worst problem” in terms of stemming the influx of foreign fighters to Iraq. Syria is under intense pressure from Washington and Baghdad to tighten control of its porous 380-mile border with Iraq.
The Marines have lost 11 men and two sailors over the past week in separate incidents around Anbar.
Elsewhere, a car bomber rammed into an Iraqi army convoy in northern Iraq early Friday, injuring at least seven people “” three soldiers, three civilians and one policeman, police Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir said. The blast came on the heels of a car bomb on Baghdad’s airport road Thursday that killed at least eight police officers and wounded 25 more…