US military makes al Qa'eda arrests

The US military says it has arrested four al Qa'eda members in Mosul, the group's last urban stronghold in Iraq.

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The US military said today it had arrested four al Qa'eda members in Mosul, the group's last urban stronghold in Iraq. The news comes the day after the military announced the death of Abu Qaswarah, al Qa'eda's number two in Iraq. "Coalition forces continued to drive al Qa'eda in Iraq out of the country Wednesday and Thursday, targeting terrorists during operations in Mosul," the US military command said.

During two related operations in Mosul, which ended yesterday, one wanted man and one additional suspect were detained by coalition forces, the statement said. "The wanted man is believed to have associated with a terrorist killed Oct 5," it said. Two more suspected terrorists were detained by coalition forces today during an operation targeting regional al Qa'eda leadership in Mosul, the military said.

On Oct 5, American units captured a building in Mosul where suspected members of al Qa'eda were holed up. Five "terrorists", including Abu Qaswarah, died during the operation, according to the US military. Morocco-born Abu Qaswarah, 43, was head of al Qa'eda for northern Iraq, including Mosul, one of the country's most dangerous provinces, the military added. Over the past few days religiously mixed but troubled Mosul has grabbed headlines after a series of murders of Christians that prompted thousands in the minority group to abandon their homes.

Although nobody has claimed responsibility for the ethnic violence, the US military spokesman Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll yesterday blamed al Qa'eda, calling it "typical" of the network. *AFP