US military downplays remarks on al-Qaida's demise

The U.S. military distanced itself Sunday from remarks declaring al-Qaida in Iraq close to defeat, saying the terror network is "off-balance and on the run," but remains a very lethal threat, the AP reported.

However, Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, a military spokesman, said violence has dropped some 70 percent since a U.S. troop buildup began nearly a year ago.

Underscoring the continuing dangers, a roadside bomb targeted a patrol of U.S.-allied Sunni Arab fighters near a mosque in northern Baghdad Sunday, killing one of the so-called Awakening Council members and wounding three others, a police official said.

Driscoll was responding to a question about comments made Saturday by U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who said Iraqi forces have made important progress in confronting extremists.

"You are not going to hear me say that al-Qaida is defeated, but they've never been closer to defeat than they are now," Crocker said, speaking in Arabic to reporters during a visit to the Shiite holy city of Najaf.

Driscoll said the number of attacks in the past week had "decreased to the level not seen since March 2004," due to recent military operations against Shiite militias in Baghdad's Sadr City and the southern city of Basra, as well as Sunni insurgents in the northern city of Mosul.

But he warned al-Qaida in Iraq maintains the ability to stage suicide bombings and other deadly attacks.

"They certainly are off-balance and on the run," Driscoll said during a news conference in the U.S.-protected Green Zone in Baghdad. But, he added, the group "remains a very lethal threat."

The U.S. military has been cautious in touting recent security gains amid fears that al-Qaida and other insurgents are trying to regroup after suffering setbacks from military operations as well as a Sunni revolt against the terror network.

Sunni tribal leaders who have joined forces with the Americans have frequently been targeted by suspected insurgents trying to derail the movement that has been credited as a key reason for the sharp decline in violence over the past year.

The other factors include a troop buildup of some 30,000 additional American forces, which is currently being reduced, and a fragile cease-fire order by anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

In the past two months, Iraqi forces have launched three major operations: cracking down on Shiite militiamen in Basra and on al-Qaida in Iraq militants in the northern city of Mosul, and deploying in the Baghdad Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City.

Thousands of Iraqi forces moved into Sadr City last week, imposing control for the first time in years, and the deployment has occurred with little violence so far.

But over the past several days violence has broken out in other Shiite districts of Baghdad as Iraqi forces move against militias there, including the powerful Mahdi Army loyal to anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Clashes broke out before midnight Saturday between Shiite gunmen and U.S.-Iraqi troops in the Amin area in eastern Baghdad, killing two civilians and wounding three others, including a 4-year-old boy, according to police and hospital officials.

The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information. The U.S. military said American troops targeted Shiite gunmen after observing them moving weapons into vehicles late Saturday in the area, wounding one of the militants.

Al-Sadr's supporters accused Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Saturday of seeking to eliminate their movement and warned that "dark clouds" hang over a truce that has so far held in Sadr City.

Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari, meanwhile, said security forces had released 251 detainees captured during operations in Mosul and surrounding areas, but 1,030 remained in custody.

He said some 2,000 al-Qaida and other Sunni insurgent fighters were believed to have been in the city before the sweep was launched. He said most of the militants who managed to flee the offensive in Ninevah province, of which Mosul is the capital, were being pursued in other provinces.

"Now they are in a confused situation," he said at a joint news conference with Driscoll. "We will not allow them to reorganize themselves."

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Georgian PM, Estonian Defense Minister discuss military cooperation
Georgian PM, Estonian Defense Minister discuss military cooperation
Georgian GDP continues its robust recovery – Renaissance Capital
Georgian GDP continues its robust recovery – Renaissance Capital
Georgia plans to renovate its Airports Association
Georgia plans to renovate its Airports Association
Loading Bars
Latest
Azerbaijan to raise expenditure on education from 2022
SOFAZ to increase transfers to Azerbaijani state budget in 2022
Iranian currency rates for October 27
Azerbaijan talks funds planned for reconstruction of liberated territories in 2022
Azerbaijan unveils planned expenditures on defense and security in 2022
Indo-Pacific regional dialogue starts today with focus on maritime strategy
Roll-out of Russian Rostselmash combine assembly plant in Azerbaijan postponed due to COVID-19
Restoration work in Azerbaijan's liberated lands will only accelerate - economy minister
Azerbaijan state budget revenues forecast for 2022 unveiled
Turkey shares cargo traffic data for its Gemlik port in 9M2021
Turkmenistan launches production of import-substituting pasteurized products
Turkey discloses volume of cargo shipment via its Botas port for 9M2021
Russia cuts import of Turkish-made cement
Azerbaijan establishes commission for preparation of civil defense plan
Roscosmos plans to orbit its robotic spacewalker in 2024
Azerbaijani, Turkish MoDs meet in liberated Zangilan
Oil falls after increases in U.S. crude, fuel stockpiles
Turkey discloses data on cargo handling from Germany via local port for 9M2021
Cause of problem at Iran’s petrol stations is cyberattack - SNSC
Azerbaijan, AIIB talk co-op in ‘smart’ and ‘green’ concepts
Fuzuli airport can attract investments needed to restore prosperity in Karabakh - Bryza
UK's Sunak tries to move on from COVID with new spending plans
U.S. considering adding Israel, Romania, Bulgaria to visa waiver program
Bahrain approves Sinopharm vaccine for children aged 3 to 11
Hamburg welcomes 1st China-Europe freight train from Shanghai amid logistics tension
Iran, Pakistan call for closer ties, vow to help Afghanistan
EU energy ministers discuss power price surge
U.S. FDA advisers back Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children
Pension Fund announces average pension rate in Uzbekistan
I am absolutely sure that Turkey and Azerbaijan, as two fraternal countries, will continue to move forward together - President Aliyev
German President presents Angela Merkel with resignation papers
Kazakh ambassador hails Iran’s role in SCO
Chronicles of Victory: October 27, 2020
Fuzuli International Airport to unbreakably connect Karabakh with Azerbaijan - Turkish official
Georgian PM, Estonian Defense Minister discuss military cooperation
We will continue to support fraternal Azerbaijan with all our capabilities - Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan completes official visit to Azerbaijan
Not every politician can achieve rapid development in short time in territories liberated from occupation - Erdogan
In two weeks we will celebrate liberation of Shushi as great Victory Day - President Aliyev
Biden heads to G20 to talk energy prices, supply chain woes
President Aliyev names visit of President Erdogan to Azerbaijan example of true brotherhood
Day will come when it will be possible to get from Zangezur to Istanbul - Erdogan
You are going to Armenian border, aren't you? You will go further - Turkish president
If Armenia shows sincere will in its relations with Azerbaijan, there will be no obstacles to normalization of relations with Turkey - President Erdogan
Turkey and Azerbaijan, as two brotherly countries, always next to each other – President Aliyev
Joint steps of Azerbaijan and Turkey will forever remain in history - President Aliyev
Shusha Declaration officially raised Azerbaijani-Turkish relations to level of alliance - President Aliyev
Presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey make press statements (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Georgian GDP continues its robust recovery – Renaissance Capital
President Erdogan presents President Aliyev with 'Kharybulbul' image watch (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey hold one-on-one meeting in Zangilan (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Russia to supply Turkmenistan’s Turkmengaz with pipes
Iran facing problems at filling stations
Azerbaijan increases propylene production in 9M2021
Azerbaijani, Turkish presidents view works done under “smart village” project in Zangilan (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Uzbekistan reveals data of foreign investment in mining industry
Uzbekistan, Singapore to co-op for humanitarian programs and projects
GM to boost EV profile with 40,000 charging stations in U.S., Canada
First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva posts photos from Aghali village, Zangilan district on her Instagram page (PHOTO)
Russia, UAE ink inter-governmental space exploration deal
Georgia plans to renovate its Airports Association
U.S. home price growth slowed in August- S&P Case-Shiller
Kazakhstan counts on international experience on operating nuclear power plants
Bahar Azadi gold coin price dips in Iran
Engineering work in Azerbaijan's liberated lands continues - MoD (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Uzbekistan's GDP grows in 9M2021
Kazakhstan sees decrease in production of iron ores
Kazakhstan’s Energy Ministry comments on Marine Access Channels project
Iran keen to increase Methanethiol production
Webinar on Engineering products organised by the Embassy of India (PHOTO)
Iran plans to develop Chaharmahal Bakhtiari Province
Azerbaijan becomes largest diesel supplier to Georgia
Bahrain approves Sinopharm vaccine for children aged 3-11
Official welcome ceremony held for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Aghali village, Zangilan district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Israeli co Emtan to provide Spanish police with 9,120 pistols
Iran boosts its TEU container transit via Shahid Rajaee port
Iran issues loans to several enterprises
Azerbaijan talks provision of Internet to inaccessible areas
Turkmen Khazar Consortium opens tender for chemicals
Opening of Fuzuli Int’l Airport to speed up investment, social dev’t of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh - Israeli expert
President Ilham Aliyev and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lay foundation for “Dost Agropark” in Zangilan (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Kazakhstan increases cargo transportations volumes via maritime
Turkmen company to purchase chemical products via tender
Azerbaijani products on display at int'l exhibition in China (PHOTO)
Turkey unveils number of ships docking at Iskenderun port
India, UK take part in joint exercise Konkan Shakti 2021
Fitch Ratings unveils long-term IDR of Astana Gas KMG
TDB and ICD sign MoU to support private sector investment in common African member states
Georgia shares its TOP-5 fuel exporters
Kazakhstan provides transit corridor for Afghan women
Iran’s West Oil & Gas Production Company prevents declining gas production
Iran’s Tejarat Bank provides loans related to coronavirus
Azerbaijan's mortgage fund issues record number of loans for 10M2021
Kazakhstan, Hungary sign memorandums in number of spheres
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for October 26
Turkey sees growth in number of registered Iranian companies for 9M2021
Leadership of Turkish Defense University visit Azerbaijani War College of Armed Forces (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan, WB discuss possible co-op in restoration of liberated lands (PHOTO)
Iran not to raise price of energy carriers - PBO
Ports giant DP World expects container volume growth to moderate in Q4
All news