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Iraqi, US Troops Launch Major Offensive in Tal Afar

Iraqi forces, supported by American troops, have launched a major offensive against insurgents in the northwestern city of Tal Afar, and the government has warned it is ready to go after terrorists in four other cities.

Days of clashes and U.S. airstrikes preceded the offensive, which began early Saturday. Many of Tal Afar's ethnic Turkmen residents had already fled ahead of the fighting.

Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi said troops had killed 141 insurgents and captured nearly 200 in the city. He also warned the residents of Ramadi, Samarra, Rawa and Qaim that their cities would be next, saying "there will be no refuge for the terrorists, criminals and bloodsuckers."

Meanwhile, south of Baghdad, in Iskandariya, police discovered the bodies of 18 men, who had been handcuffed and executed.

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