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Iraqi PM Opens Command Center in Mosul, Returns to Baghdad


Iraq's prime minister returned to the nation's capital Saturday after spending several days in Mosul overseeing a military operation against militants currently under way there. VOA's Suzanne Presto reports from the northern city of Irbil.

Before he departed Mosul, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki opened a new military operation command post in the northern city. He said this new facility, complete with high-tech equipment, would assist the Iraqi army with its campaign in Mosul. He said it would also benefit military commanders throughout the country.

The new facility in Ninawa gives commanders there the ability to teleconference with other operation posts in the nation, providing a better overview of military campaigns.

A military media advisor says generals plan to teleconference each week to discuss strategy and follow troop movements across Iraq.

Meanwhile, military officials in Mosul say they are pleased with the success of the operation in the city, which began in earnest one week ago.

The commander of operations for Ninawa province, Major General Riyadh Jalal, says commanders have praised this as the Iraqi military's most successful operation to date.

General Jalal added that, from a security standpoint, this is very different from previous operations to push militants out of the cities, including the recent campaign in the Shi'ite militant stronghold of Basra, in southern Iraq. That operation, launched in late March, was characterized by fierce resistance from militants, heavy fighting in the streets, and the desertion of some members of the security forces.

An Interior Ministry spokesman says more than 1,000 wanted militants have been captured in Mosul since May 10. He said the military had security orders to arrest each of those detainees in the urban al-Qaida in Iraq stronghold.

In addition, the spokesman says troops have confiscated 600 kilograms of high explosives, nearly 80 roadside bombs and more than 45 rockets. They also took control of almost 200 simple and medium weapons. It is not clear if that number includes small arms that militants may have turned over in return for amnesty, as promised by the prime minister.

In other news, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, arrived in Baghdad Saturday on a previously unannounced visit for talks with Iraqi and U.S. officials.

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