The American military launched a major new offensive of about 2,500 Marines, soldiers and sailors near the Syrian border on Saturday, aimed at destroying an al-Qaida in Iraq network in the region, the US command said. The "Operation Steel Curtain" offensive in the town of Husaybah in the western province of Anbar will remove insurgents and their "safe houses" from the area to improve security there ahead of Iraq's parliamentary election on Dec. 15, the military said. The offensive included an unspecified number of Iraqi forces. Husaybah is located near the border town of Qaim and is about 320 kilometers (200 miles) west of Baghdad. "Operation Steel Curtain marks the first large-scale employment of multiple battalion-sized units of Iraqi army forces in combined operations with coalition forces in the last year," the military said in a statement.