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May 18, 2008

1,100 Insurgents Detained in Mosul Offensive, Including Three Wanted Al Qaeda Bombers

Al Jazeera reports:

About 1,100 people have been arrested during the first four days of an Iraqi military operation in the country's main northern city of Mosul, the defence ministry says.

Major-General Mohammed al-Askari, the ministry spokesman, said on Saturday there had been no clashes or killings during the mission, which is ongoing.


Al-Askari said 530 of those being held, three of them senior al-Qaeda members, were wanted by the authorities.

He said security forces had recovered 1,400kg of explosives, 45 missiles, 263 mortar bombs and 175 assorted weapons.

Iraqi leaders said many of the fighters had fled to nearby areas, where troops were hunting for them.

However, the operation is being described as successful in depriving the fighters of their urban stronghold. But the flight of al-Qaeda fighters to nearby areas raises the concern they can regroup elsewhere, as has happened in the past.


Major-General Mark Hertling, the senior US commander in northern Iraq, whose forces are working with the Iraqi troops in the operation, said he did not believe significant numbers of fighters had escaped.

He said Iraqi forces had surrounded the city with barriers and checkpoints controlling entry and exits.

"It's been very successful," he told the Associated Press. "I think the combination of the arrests plus the uncovering of a number of weapons caches will reduce the number of attacks in Mosul."

On Friday, al-Maliki had announced a 10-day amnesty for those surrendering weaponry, but officials said there had been no response to an offer of cash in exchange for heavy and medium weapons.

A Time piece states that the IA and US military may have hoped for an Al Qaeda Alamo, fighting to the last man in an effort to save their last urban haven, and spins it as terribly disappointing that so many fled. But it seems to me that if they were in Mosul that was their first preference -- probably easier to hide and escape combined arms attacks -- and so they've retreated to less favorable ground.

Meanwhile, an Al Qaeda sympathizer laments, by his calculations, a 94% drop in Al Qaeda operational strength.

The chart he complied tracking attacks:


Speaks for itself, even without a translation.

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posted by Ace at 01:44 PM

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