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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Iraq: Tribal militias claim to capture 270 al qaeda fighters

Baghdad, 31 Jan. (AKI) - Some 270 Arab and foreign fighters have been detained in Iraq's restive al-Anbar province in a 'defensive campaign' launched by the local population towards the al-Qaeda network, tribal leaders say. A source close to tribal chiefs told Adnkronos International (AKI) that "the Iraqi security forces, with the help of the local population, have managed to arrest terrorists and Iraqis who provided them refuge."

"Most of them were Syrian, Saudi and Jordanian nationals. They have been transferred to Baghdad to be interrogated to discover how they reached the region and who is financing their terrorist activites" the source told AKI.

"The group of (Jordanian militant and al-Qaeda pointman) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi did not expect a similar campaign which has dealt them a serious blow," he continued, adding that "it won't be the last given that the population is determined to expel those who kill civilians in the name of resistance".

Regarding the nature of the tribal militias, the source explained that "all the operations are carried out under the auspices of the defence minister Saadun al-Dulaimi and coordinated with volunteers in the area."

The governor of Nineveh (450 km northwest of Baghdad) had appealed to the tribal leaders in the province "not to help terrorists who could come here to seek refuge" after being forced out of neighbouring al-Anbar province.

For his part, the military advisor of the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Wafiq al-Samarrai, said that there are more contacts underway with armed resistance groups to define the security, stressing to AKI that "at the moment there are six groups, but there will be others" and that "high level government officials are overseeing these talks."

Samarrai added that "these talks do not involve the security question in al-Anbar province alone, but aim to create foundations throughout Iraq. In the coming days, there will bve meeting between the US troops and Iraqi resistance tgroups attended by Sunni tribal chiefs from Western Iraq to discuss the departure of American troops and their substitution with Iraqi forces, as well as the release of Sunni prisoners in return for a halt to armed attacks.

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