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US Military: Al-Qaida in Iraq 'On the Run'  But Remains 'Lethal'


The U.S. military says al-Qaida in Iraq has been put on the run by U.S. and Iraqi forces but remains a lethal threat.

A U.S. military spokesman, Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll, said Sunday that recent U.S. and Iraqi security operations have, in his words, "certainly" put al-Qaida off balance. But, he says the group retains the ability to carry out high profile attacks.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said Saturday that al-Qaida in Iraq has never been closer to defeat. Iraqi and U.S. forces began an operation this month to drive out the group from its last urban stronghold in the northern city of Mosul.

An Iraqi defense spokesman, Major General Mohammed al-Askari, says some al-Qaida militants who fled Mosul have taken refuge near the central Iraqi towns of Tikrit and Ramadi. But, he says Iraqi troops will not allow them to reorganize.

Al-Askari says Iraqi security forces have detained 1,030 suspects in and around Mosul since the start of the security crackdown.

U.S. military spokesman Driscoll says the overall number of attacks in Iraq fell sharply over the past week to a level not seen since March 2004. He did not give specific figures.

In one violent incident Sunday, a car bomb exploded in Baghdad near a convoy carrying the governor of Iraq's Babil province. At least nine people were wounded.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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