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Coalition Forces Capture 24 Suspected al-Qaida Members, Associates

The U.S. military says coalition forces have captured 24 suspected members and associates of al-Qaida in Iraq in operations Friday.

In a statement, the military said the operations occurred in and around the capital Baghdad, Tikrit and Mosul. Coalition and Iraqi forces also conducted three synchronized operations in Kirkuk.

On Thursday, U.S. officials said they have given their final response to a proposed security deal with Iraq, while some Iraqi leaders said more negotiations are needed.

A State Department spokesman said Washington has addressed changes suggested by Iraq and the negotiating process is now completed. He did not go into details about the U.S. response.

But an Iraqi government spokesman said that Iraq had received the U.S. response, and that further talks with Washington are needed. He did not provide any details, but said the mood is positive.

Meanwhile, Iraqi National Security Advisor Muwafffaq al-Rubaie told Al-Arabiya television that Iraq had proposed 110 changes and the U.S. had agreed to most of them, including a mandate that U.S. troops would not remain in Iraq after 2011.

Iraq also proposed changes to the draft agreement that would give Baghdad more authority over U.S. troops and guarantee that Iraqi territory will not be used to attack other countries.

In Iraq this week, a series of insurgent attacks have killed at least 28 people.

Despite the spike in violence, the U.S. is planning to reduce its military presence in Iraq, following reports that attacks are at a four-year low.

A White House spokesman Thursday said a combat brigade - usually made up of about 3,500 troops - currently in Baghdad will return to the United States this month, two months earlier than planned.