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Iraqi Interior Ministry: Most of Al-Qaida Network Destroyed in 2007

The Iraqi Interior Ministry says 75 percent of al-Qaida in Iraq's terrorist network has been destroyed in the past 12 months.

An Interior Ministry spokesman, Abdul Kareem Khalaf, told a news conference in Baghdad Saturday that increased Iraqi patrols played a key role in the improved security situation. He said the terrorist network's activity is now limited to areas north of the capital.

He did not elaborate on how the percentage was determined.

Elsewhere in the capital, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, told reporters Saturday that al-Qaida is still a top concern despite some success against it. He said the U.S. military regards the group as the most significant challenge threatening Iraq.

Also Saturday, the U.S. military said coalition forces killed three terrorists and detained about 40 suspects in separate operations targeting al-Qaida in central and northern Iraq.

The military said another operation in southern Iraq focused on what the military calls "Special Groups" that concentrate on rocket-propelled grenade and mortar attacks against coalition forces.

Also Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki flew to London for what he said is a routine medical check-up. He told reporters at the airport in Baghdad that he would return home soon.

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