The U.S. military has begun a joint, nationwide operation with Iraqi forces aimed at wiping out extremist strongholds.
They're calling it Operation Phantom Phoenix.
It's described as a major strike against extremists including the al-Qaida-in-Iraq terror group, known as AQI. The military says AQI is trying to regain strength and set up new support areas in northern Iraq. The number-two American general in the country says, quote, "We are determined not to allow these brutal elements to have respite anywhere."
A military statement says the operation will be using "lethal and non-lethal" means to take advantage of recent security gains in Iraq and "disrupt terrorist support zones and enemy command and control." It says the "non-lethal" part of the operation involves improving basic life for Iraqi civilians.
Violence throughout the country has dropped dramatically in recent months. Credit has been going to the troop surge ordered by President Bush and to cooperation from Sunni groups that had been part of the insurgency.