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Chance: Message is U.S. 'will strike back'

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CNN Correspondent Matthew Chance in Baghdad on Friday.

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(CNN) -- The unrelenting attacks from insurgents in Iraq are bringing about a decisive and deadly response from U.S. forces. Troops early Friday launched raids on the ground and from the air, targeting guerrilla fighters. But despite the offensive, U.S. soldiers and civilians were attacked.

CNN's Daryn Kagan talked to correspondent Matthew Chance, who is in Baghdad.

CHANCE: A tough new response by U.S. military officials to this mounting insurgency across areas of Iraq -- Operation Iron Hammer has been going on for its third successive day. We have seen strikes against various military targets across the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, as well as helicopters flying in the skies day and night over Baghdad, to carry out reconnaissance missions to try to keep a tab on what militant activities there may be in the city.

Earlier, we joined one of those helicopter patrols of the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment, a Black Hawk helicopter, equipped with night vision, on a reconnaissance patrol.

The purpose of their mission in Operation Iron Hammer is to monitor the insurgents who have been carrying out the attacks. They are on the lookout for militants preparing to launch mortar attacks, or planting those roadside bombs that have been so deadly in recent weeks on the ground.

U.S. troops check, meanwhile, for explosives and firearms on the streets. The latest U.S. strikes hit a building, which U.S. officials say was a former building of the Republican Guard of Saddam Hussein, which is still being used, they say, by militants to carry out these attacks.

Commanders say this latest operation, Iron Hammer, is intended to show America's attackers that its forces will strike back and are watching what they're doing. The big risk, though -- will it actually curb the activity of the militants or encourage them?

KAGAN: And, Matthew, in other news, the Italian defense minister came to tour the bombed-out compound where those Italian soldiers and police officers died earlier this week. [Eight Iraqis also died in the blast.]

CHANCE: That's right. [It was] the biggest attack against coalition forces, certainly since major combat operations were declared at an end by President Bush on May 1st. It brings to more than 60 ... the number of coalition troops that have been killed since that date. Clearly, for coalition troops and for Iraqi civilians across Iraq, the country is still immensely dangerous.


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