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Iraq operation targets militants

By Gabriel Gatehouse
BBC News, Baghdad

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Iraqi authorities say they have arrested more than 150 suspected Sunni militants in and around the northern city of Mosul.

The operation began late on Wednesday and is understood to be continuing.

It is the first major Iraqi-led offensive in the area since US forces withdrew from urban areas of the country at the end of June.

Some detainees are part of al-Qaeda in Iraq, others loyal to Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party, officials say.

The defence ministry says that 100 of the detainees have already been transferred to the capital for questioning, and that about 100 are still wanted.

The operation is being led by an elite Iraqi anti-terrorist unit from Baghdad, and this is the largest of its kind since the Americans handed control of urban areas back to Iraqi forces.

There are still large numbers of US troops stationed in the area, though it is not clear to what extent they were involved in the operation, if at all.

While security has improved in many parts of Iraq, the government in Baghdad has struggled to stamp its authority on Mosul, where attacks on security forces and civilians remain a daily occurrence.



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