If accurate — and, considering other reports indicate that jihadists have been fleeing Iraq for Afghanistan — this may bode well for Iraq. “Iraq Nabs Hundreds of Al-Qaeda Suspects,” from Alalam, August: 2
BAQUBA, Iraq, Aug 2–Iraq military backed by US forces arrested on Saturday hundreds of suspects during an offensive aimed at stamping out Al-Qaeda in a restive central province, officials said.
Major General Mohammed al-Askari, spokesman for the defense ministry, said that the forces arrested 265 suspects so far during operations in Diyala province.
The raids have taken place throughout the province where 50,000 Iraqi soldiers and police began a major push against insurgents on Tuesday to secure the volatile region.
“The operation is still on going successfully and is now in its fifth day,” Askari said.
Among those detained was Abu Anas al-Baghdadi, a top al-Qaeda operative in Diyala and four members of the so-called Council of Mujahedeen, one of many front groups for Al-Qaeda, according to interior ministry spokesman Abdelkarim Khalaf.
In the past few months the multi-ethnic region made up of Christians and Muslims has seen repeated efforts by Iraqi militaries to drive out insurgents.
Last week, Iraqi forces backed by US troops launched a major assault against rebels in the province.
Iraqi troops netted about 20 suspected insurgents in the operation.
Last month the US military said a force of 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and police were amassing in Diyala and its capital Baquba, an area where insurgents regularly carry out attacks.
Asskri said that the security operations codenamed “Glad Tidings” would specifically target Al-Qaeda operatives.
Diyala, fed by the Euphrates and Diyala rivers, was once the granary of Iraq and the country’s orange capital with its lush orchards.
Iraqi policemen and US soldiers take positions during their joint operation in Diyala province.