Baghdad Asharq Al-Awsat- Muhammad al-Askari, the Iraqi Defense Ministry’s official spokesman, has stressed that there is confirmed information indicating that Al-Qaeda’s leaders have escaped from Iraq and that security organs have uncovered full details about their organization, including their names and whereabouts, adding that the organs are preparing to strike or arrest them in very well-planned operations.
Al-Askari told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Iraqi security organs’ success in crushing Al-Qaeda’s leaders either by killing or arresting them and hunting the remaining ones followed joint field and intelligence operations by the army and police forces. He asserted that the ongoing “Augurs of Prosperity” operation in Diyala “is targeting the terrorist organizations’ last post. But this does not mean we finished the “Al-Qaeda” dossier in Iraq when the Diyala operations end because they can reappear in future somewhere else.”
Al-Askari also revealed that 189 wanted persons were arrested during the “Augurs of Prosperity” operation while Abdul Karim Khalaf, the operations commander in the Iraqi Interior Ministry, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the detainees include four members of the Mujahidin Shura Council (associated with “Al-Qaeda)” and asserted that “large quantities of weapons and ammunitions were seized.” On his part, Diyala Governor Raed al-Mulla Jawad asserted the Iraqi forces’ control of all areas in the governorate and said the tribal chiefs expressed their readiness to back the operation for the sake of stabilizing the security situations in the city.
Abdul Latif al-Rayyan, the media adviser to the coalition forces in Iraq, said all the information reported by the American media yesterday was true, confirmed, and from inside Iraq, adding that this is evidence of the military operations’ success and the precise achievement of their targets. He noted that Al-Anbar, Mosul, Diyala, and Baghdad “were considered among the areas where Al-Qaeda based itself and the change that has taken place now is that these groups do not have anymore places that can be called safe for them and their movements. This forced them to turn into smaller groupings or even individuals hiding here and there to make it easy for them to hide in various areas of Iraq, particularly in the northern ones. But this will not stop the hunt for them because our operations have started to depend on the quality of information and precision in implementation.”
In other news, an army spokesman says a roadside bomb attack has killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded two others in northern city of Kirkuk.
Col. Salam al-Zobaei, the spokesman of the Iraqi army in Kirkuk, says the bomb struck an army patrol near the city on Friday.
A suicide bombing killed 25 people in the oil-rich city during a Kurdish demonstration on Monday. Tensions are running high in the multi-ethnic city where Kurds want the annexation of the regional capital Kirkuk and other areas to the self-ruled Kurdish region over the opposition of Arab and Turkomen residents.
Iraqi parliament is to hold a special session Sunday to try to resolve disagreements over power-sharing in Kirkuk that have blocked legislation enabling U.S.-backed provincial elections.