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Iraq Transition

Hunt for insurgents near Syria ends

More than 125 insurgents, nine Marines dead

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Some 400 Iraqis killed by insurgents in the past two weeks.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Marines said Saturday they "successfully completed Operation Matador," a weeklong hunt for insurgents along the Syrian border that left nine Marines and more than 125 insurgents dead.

Also, U.S. military and Iraqi authorities reported more violence. In Baghdad, insurgents killed 10 people in bombings and shootings Saturday, including a senior official of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry. South of the capital, three beheaded male bodies were found. And in Mosul, at least two people died in suicide car bomb attacks.

Insurgent attacks were cited for the operation in Anbar province.

"The region, an historical smuggling route and known insurgent hiding place, is used as a staging area where insurgents receive weapons and equipment and organize for attacks against the key cities of Ramadi, Falluja, Baghdad and Mosul," the U.S. military said in a written statement.

Troops disrupted "the known infiltration routes through the region and disrupted sanctuaries and staging areas," the statement said.

The operation "confirmed existing intelligence assessments ... including knowledge of numerous cave complexes" north of the Euphrates River. Marines plan to monitor the area.

"Thirty-nine insurgents of intelligence value" were detained and 40 Marines were wounded.

The offensive was launched May 7 to counter the escalation in insurgent attacks throughout Iraq. The rise in violence coincided with the period in which the Shiite and Kurdish-dominated transitional government took power. The insurgency is regarded as largely comprised of Sunni Arabs as well as foreigners.

On Friday the transitional government's prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, extended the country's state of emergency for 30 days.

The U.S. military said that Marines, sailors and soldiers from Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Division, participated in the operation and secured "objectives in and around the Euphrates River cities of Karabila, Rumana and Ubaydi."

"The offensive was aimed at eliminating anti-Iraqi forces, neutralizing their sanctuary, disrupting planned attacks, and fracturing existing terrorist networks in the area," the U.S. military said.

During the first 24-hour period of the operation, the U.S. military said, about 70 heavily armed insurgents and foreign fighters died in several engagements. Marines found among the border communities weapons caches of machine guns, rocket and bomb-making material and mortar rounds.

Also found were six "vehicle-borne" bombs and bomb-making material, the military said, and the Marines defused a number of them.

The Marines complimented the hospitality of residents and said essential services and health care were not "impeded" during the operation.

The military also confirmed Saturday the deaths of four more U.S. Marines killed by a land mine Wednesday. That raises the death toll in the incident to six Marines. Fourteen others were wounded.

Their 18-seat amphibious assault vehicle was filled with Marines from the 1st Platoon of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, from Columbus, Ohio.

Lima Company suffered eight of the nine deaths from Operation Matador.

Violence across Iraq

Here are details about the violence reported separately by U.S. military and Iraqi authorities:

  • In Baghdad, insurgents killed 10 people in bombings and shootings Saturday, including five Iraqis near the Ministry of Industry and Minerals. A car bomb there apparently targeted a police patrol.
  • Also in Baghdad, a senior official of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, Jasim Mohammed Ghiri, was shot dead in front of his house Saturday night. Three neighbors, who were also standing in front of the house, were wounded in the drive-by shooting.
  • About 30 miles south of Baghdad police discovered three beheaded male bodies in a deserted area near a region called the "Triangle of Death." Doctors who later examined the bodies at al-Musayyib Hospital found evidence of torture before the beheadings.
  • A suicide car bomb detonated in Baquba, northeast of the capital, wounding two Iraqi policemen and a civilian. In northern Mosul two suicide car bomb attacks were carried out; one claimed the lives of two Iraqi civilians and occurred near a multinational force convoy.
  • Other developments

  • A 30-year-old male detainee at the Camp Bucca prison in southern Iraq died Saturday of "an apparent heart attack," according to a U.S. military news release.
  • Multinational forces in northern Iraq detained more than 20 suspected insurgents and discovered a large number of weapons, the American military said. The operations were in Mosul, Tal Afar and Qayyara. Also, a tip from a citizen there led to a bomb that was later defused.
  • CNN's Kevin Flower, Enes Dulami and Kianne Sadeq contributed to this report.

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