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December 29, 2007
Iraq Claims "75% of al-Qaeda destroyed"
Iraq's Interior Minister is claiming that 75% of al-Qaeda in Iraq has been destroyed.
He also claimed reduced sectarian killings and assassinations as well as a decrease in foreign fighters crossing the border into Iraq:
"We have destroyed 75 percent of Al-Qaeda hide-outs, and we broke up major criminal networks that supported Al-Qaeda in Baghdad," he said. This is a remarkable turnaround considering where the country was one year ago.
"After eliminating safe houses in Anbar province, which used to be Al-Qaeda's base, we moved into areas surrounding Baghdad and into Diyala province. Al-Qaeda headed north and we are pursuing them," he said.
Khalaf said kidnappings were down 70 percent and that an average of three to five people killed by death squads were being found each day in Baghdad compared with 15 to 20 a day in February.
The reduction in kidnappings means that security in Baghdad is finally starting to crack down on the criminal gangs who were carrying out up to 70 kidnappings a day, ransoming their captives for a couple of hundred dollars which allowed them to buy arms to sell to insurgents. Fewer kidnappings means that the insurgents arms sources are drying up.
And the patrolling of the border - especially with Syria - is also a good sign. It was estimated that as many as 2000 foreign fighters were inflitrating into Iraq every month. Any reduction in that category is also welcome.