An Iraqi military commander in Mosul says security forces have detained more than 1,000 suspected militants in the past few days, as troops work to clear one of the last strongholds of al Qaida in Iraq. VOA's Suzanne Presto reports from the northern city of Irbil.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in Mosul where he is overseeing a major military campaign to rout out the militants in the northern city. The prime minister has urged militants to turn in heavy weapons in return for amnesty within the next 10 days, and his efforts are being bolstered by the support of local leaders for this and other initiatives.
Mr. Maliki met with city officials on Friday and praised their cooperative efforts.
He said unity is required to bring justice, security and other positive developments to the town.
Mr. Maliki said the leaders of Arab clans were very helpful in operations targeting militants in southern and western Iraq, and this operation in northern Iraq is no different.
He said this means that there is a reserve of power and energy that can be used in all kinds of operations, from security to political to economic.
Mr. Maliki emphasized that the military operations in Mosul, which began in earnest on May 10, are only the beginning.
He said future phases of the operation will include reconstruction, adding that development funding will be spent to revitalize the city and provide job opportunities for the area's workers.
Although the local officials and Mosul's governor have expressed support for Maliki's military campaign, at least one party leader in Baghdad has expressed concern with the prime minister's tactics.
In an interview with a private Iraqi television station (al-Sharqia) broadcast Friday, former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said Mr. Maliki must better coordinate with political officials in Baghdad.
He said even if the prime minister does not trust all the politicians, he is obligated to discuss his decisions with them and provide an outline for his plans.
Elsewhere in Iraq, the spokesman for Iraqi security operations in Baghdad said teams have cleared mines from all the main roads in the capital's Sadr City neighborhood, allowing government forces to enter the area. A recent military operation quelled seven weeks' worth of fierce and deadly fighting between government forces and Shi'ite militants in the stronghold of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Iraqi security spokesman Qasim Atta said al-Sadr's followers have been cooperating with troops.
He said Iraqi forces hope to have full control of the area within the next few days. He said they plan to implement projects to provide citizens with basic services.