BAGHDAD - US troops in Iraq launched a major assault against militants and alleged Iranian-aided extremist groups on Monday.
Operation Phantom Strike, the military announced, was being waged nationwide to disrupt Shiite extremist operations and insurgents affiliated to Al-Qaeda.
"It consists of simultaneous operations throughout Iraq focused on pursuing remaining AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq) terrorists and Iranian-supported extremist elements," the military said.
"My intent is to continue to pressure AQI and other extremist elements throughout Iraq to reduce their capabilities," said Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, the number two commander of US forces in Iraq.
The US military declined to elaborate on the operation, citing "security concerns."
"But I can say this effort will be a top priority for combat units operating in Iraq for this period leading up to Ramadan," a spokesman said, referring to the Muslim month of fasting due to begin in the second week of September.
The US military also said it had arrested a top "financier" of Iraqi extremist groups believed to be supported by Tehran's elite Quds Force in a Baghdad raid on Monday.
The arrest came a day after up to five militants were killed and 13 others detained during a raid on Baghdad's Shiite slum of Sadr City. The military claimed those they rounded up in that raid were also linked to the Quds Force.