WASHINGTON, May 26 (UPI) -- About 1,000 U.S. Marines and Iraqi security forces are in the second day of battle around Haditha, Iraq.
One Marine, assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2 of the 2nd Marine Division, has been killed so far in the operation, nicknamed Operation New Market.
At least two Marines have been wounded so far. At least six insurgent fighters were killed Wednesday after they attacked Marines and Iraqi government forces at around 4 a.m. in central Haditha, a town on the Euphrates the military says is a major way point for insurgents coming from Syria.
One of the six was a local cleric, U.S. Central Command said in a press statement Thursday.
Another four insurgents were killed in separate engagements.
Marines and Iraqi security forces have encircled the city with checkpoints, according to the U.S. military.
Col. Stephen Davis, commanding officer of Regimental Combat Team 2 said in a prepared statement, "We were able to achieve what we believe is total surprise, and we continue to do our series of coordinated searches for insurgents and for caches of munitions and weapons."
Operation New Market comes hard on the heels of a week-long offensive called Operation Matador, carried out along the Syrian border about 120 kilometers to the north. U.S. forces report at least 100 insurgents killed in that battle.
Marines in the area reported Thursday that during a raid on a house in Ubaidy near the border they rescued an Iraqi man who was kidnapped, held and beaten for three days by insurgents.