US Navy fighter jets flew sorties over northern Iraq from an aircraft carrier in the Gulf on Wednesday, as American forces pounded suspected armed fighters hideouts with heavy weapons.
US President George Bush vowed not to leave Iraq despite the rising toll inflicted by insurgents, saying the alliance had not paid a high price in casualties and liberated 25 million people "only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins".
US military spokesmen said the latest offensive formed part of operations Iron Hammer and Ivy Cyclone Two - campaigns launched in the past 10 days to combat the growing number of resistance attacks which have killed 179 US soldiers in just over six months.
Jets from the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier dropped 1000 lb bombs on targets near the northern town of Kirkuk, the US military said.
Other fighter planes dropped 2000 lb bombs around Baquba, a restive town about 65km north of Baghdad. In Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, the 4th Infantry Division pounded targets with mortars, tanks and Hellfire missiles.
A target in Kirkuk destroyed as
part of Operation Ivy Cyclone
In Baghdad, the 1st Armored Division continued its campaign of evening attacks on areas believed to be used by fighters. Explosions echoed across the capital after darkness fell.
Aljazeera's correspondent in Basra said that a huge explosion rocked al-Ashaar district on Wednesday evening, but no casualties were reported. The incident which was caused by an explosive device, targeted the Organisation of Islamic al-Taliyaa.
Also, a British soldier was wounded when his military convoy came under attack in Basra. Following the incident, British forces closed all the roads leading to the attack scene.
10 million bounty
US officials confirmed they had destroyed the Tikrit home of Izzat Ibrahim, Saddam's top lieutenant, who is accused of being directly behind some attacks on US troops.
It was not clear if Ibrahim or anyone else was in the building when it was demolished by satellite-guided missiles.
Lieutenant Izzat Ibrahim:
Wanted dead or alive
A spokesman for the US-led administration in Iraq announced a $10million bounty for information leading to the
capture or killing of Ibrahim.
"This week we will be launching a public information campaign across Iraq to promote the $10million reward for information leading to his capture or killing," spokesman Dan Senor said.