US and Iraqi security forces on Wednesday detained dozens of suspects linked to al-Qaeda as part of a nationwide crackdown on the terror network, news reports said.
In Diyala, two female would-be suicide bombers and 15 wanted men were arrested as part of Operation Baashaer al-Kheir (Promise of Good) currently ongoing in the volatile province, officials told independent news agency Voices Of Iraq (VOI), dpa reported.
"Iraqi forces arrested two female suicide bombers in al-Asri neighborhood in al-Tahrir region in Diyala and 15 wanted men in Muqdadiya, al-Saadiya, Baladruz and Kanaan regions," Defence Ministry spokesman Mohammad al-Askari told VOI.
Launched last week, the operation is aimed at tracking down al- Qaeda members in Diyala, a province extending north-east of Baghdad as far as the Iranian border.
It follows the weakening of al-Qaeda's former strongholds in the Sunni-dominated province of al-Anbar, where tribal forces flushed them out of the region.
Also on Wednesday, a second military operation was launched by joint US-Iraq forces in Babel province, 100 kilometres south of Baghdad. Some 23 suspects were seized in the swoop, among them an al- Qaeda leader and two senior aides, an unnamed source told VOI.
"A joint force of Iraqi and US personnel launched a wide-scale military operation in al-Iskan region in al-Askandariya district and in Jarf al-Sakhr region, northwest of Hillah, where the force arrested 23 wanted men, including Abu Khaled, al-Qaeda leader, and two of his aides," the source said.
"The forces confiscated 128 weapons found with the three gunmen and found 300 mortar shells in a mosque in Hillah," he added.