As the final push to secure the southern parts of the Cotentin Peninsula, Operation Cobra aimed to continue the advance that had been made during the capture of St-Lô by forcing a break in the German defences. The Germans were stretched thin so it was hoped that a breakthrough could be achieved, allowing the Americans to move from the restrictive bocage into more open terrain. A heavy aerial bombardment was carried out on a stretch of the St-Lô–Périers road on 25 July. Smoke flares intended to designate the location of the bombing had blown over American lines on 24 July, resulting in significant casualties. Progress was slow at first but the Americans eventually broke the line. The flanks were protected from German counterattacks, with XIX Corps fending off two panzer divisions moving in from the east. German reinforcements were being kept occupied near Caen in Operation Bluecoat from 30 July.
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