Operation Sunrise (Vietnam War)
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Operation Sunrise was the first phase of a long range South Vietnamese counter-offensive against the Viet Cong (VC) during the Vietnam War. It was launched in the Bến Cát District of the Bình Dương Province 35 miles (56 km) from Saigon. It began the Strategic Hamlet Program in which scattered rural populations in South Vietnam were uprooted from their ancestral farmlands and resettled into fortified villages defended by local militias. However, over 50 of the hamlets were soon infiltrated and easily taken over by VC who killed or intimidated village leaders.
As a result, South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem ordered bombing raids against suspected VC-controlled hamlets. The air strikes by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force were supported by U.S. pilots, who also conducted some of the bombings. Following the air strikes South Vietnamese light tanks pushed into the hamlets to sweep out rebels. Although dozens of VC were killed, the operation took a hard toll on the populations as civilian casualties eroded popular support for Diem and resulted in growing peasant hostility toward America, which was largely blamed for the unpopular resettlement program as well as the bombings.
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