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American and Iraqi Forces Launch New Offensive Near Falluja


U.S. and Iraqi forces have launched a new offensive against insurgents in western Iraq.

Officials say 500 U.S. Marines and 100 Iraqi soldiers are sweeping Anbar province. They say 22 suspected insurgents had been detained by Saturday.

It is the fourth major counter-insurgency operation in Anbar province in the past month. Military officials say the province stretching from the Syrian border to just west of Baghdad is a conduit for foreign militants entering Iraq.

Meanwhile, Britain's Mail on Sunday newspaper says London is considering pulling out at least three thousand of its 8,500 troops in Iraq. The paper, citing a leaked memo purportedly from British Defense Secretary John Reid, says the United States also plans to cut its forces to 66,000 from about 140,000 early next year.

Mr. Reid issued a statement saying Britain is considering several options regarding its troop levels in Iraq, and that no decisions have been made. There was no immediate comment from the U.S. government.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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