Iraq says most of al Qaeda network destroyed
Iraq's interior ministry spokesman said Saturday that 75 percent of al-Qaeda in Iraq's network had been destroyed this year, but the top American commander in the country said the group remained his chief concern. According to the AP, Maj. Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf said the disruption of the network was due to improvements in the Iraqi security forces.
He also credited the rise of anti-al-Qaeda in Iraq groups, mostly made up of Sunni fighters the Shiite-dominated government has cautiously started to embrace. Additionally, an increase in American troops since June has been credited with pushing many militants out of Baghdad.
Khalaf's assertion that three-fourths of al-Qaeda in Iraq had been destroyed could not be independently verified and he did not elaborate on how the percentage was determined.
Khalaf said such pressure on extremists has helped contain their activities. "Their activity is now limited to certain places north of Baghdad," he said at a news conference. "We're working on pursuing those groups, that is the coming fight."
Gen. David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, told a small group of Western reporters on Saturday that despite the success against al-Qaeda in Iraq, destroying the group is still a top concern for the U.S. military. "We still regard al-Qaida as the biggest threat," Petraeus said. "We regard them as the most significant challenge facing Iraq."