26 militants killed, 35 arrested in Iraq


Baghdad : Twenty-six militants were killed and 35 arrested in large-scale offensives in Diyala and Salahaddin provinces, sources said Monday

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A joint US-Iraqi force killed 18 Al Qaeda insurgents and detained 28 Monday in a security offensive in the Iraqi province of Diyala, media reports said.

An Iraqi military source told the news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) that a joint force of the Iraqi army and police backed by multinational troops mounted dawn raids in the area of Muqdadiya in Diyala province, 110 km northeast of Baghdad.

At least 18 Al Qaeda insurgents, three of them Saudi nationals, were killed and 28 arrested in the raids, the source said.

VOI reported that at least two Al-Qaeda suspects and an Iraqi civilian were killed and five wounded in fighting between insurgents and locals in the province of Diyala.

Locals from the village of al-Naqib fended off an attack by scores of Al Qaeda fighters, in which light and medium weapons were used, VOI quoted a security source as saying.

Three houses and big swathes of farmland were destroyed in the attack.

Villager Shaykh Musa al-Abud said the village had been frequently attacked by Al Qaeda insurgents from their main base in the neighbouring area of al-Khalis.

Many insurgents fled the city of Baquba in Diyala province after the launch of a large-scale security offensive and took refuge in the al-Khalis countryside.

About 1,000 joint Iraqi military and police forces Sunday raided “a hotbed of terrorism” over 50,000 square metres in the villages west of Samarra and Tikrit cities in Salahaddin province, killing eight militants and detaining seven, said officer Ahmed Sobhi from anti-terrorism forces in the province.

The forces confiscated large quantities of explosives and weapons as well as four cars and destroyed a remote-controlled car bomb.

They also seized maps of key bridges and areas in Salahaddin province, 175 km north of Baghdad, and CDs containing information on the operations of the armed groups.

The US military said a US soldier was killed in a small arms fire attack east of Baghdad Sunday.

The latest casualty brings the September death toll of the US military to 63. Some 3,804 members of the US military have been killed since the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Casualties among Iraqi civilians in September have dropped to 488 from 1,773 people in August, the Iraqi government statistics released Monday showed.

In another development, the US embassy in Baghdad warned in a statement against any attempts to divide the country, saying the US administration stood firm behind a united, stable Iraq.

The statement came in response to a non-binding resolution passed by the US Senate last week advocating the division of Iraq.