NBC News and news services
Updated: 10:45 a.m. ET March 16, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military said on Thursday it had launched its biggest air offensive in Iraq since the 2003 invasion of the country.

A military statement said the operation involving more than 50 aircraft and 1,500 Iraqi and U.S. troops as well as 200 tactical vehicles targeted suspected insurgents operating in Salah Ad Din, a province that includes Samarra, a town located 60 miles north of Baghdad.

“Initial reports from the objective area indicate that a number of enemy weapons caches have been captured, containing artillery shells, explosives, IED-making materials, and military uniforms,” the military said in a statement. IEDs are improvised explosive devices.

The mliitary said the operation began Thursday morning and was likely to continue for several days.

This report will be updated as information becomes available.

Reuters contributed to this report.