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Iraq Says 18 Terror Groups Dismantled in August

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Iraq’s anti-terrorist squad broke up 18 insurgent networks and made 66 arrests last month, including members of Al-Qaeda, a high-ranking official told reporters in Baghdad on Sunday.

“The anti-terrorist force dismantled 18 networks across Iraq,” said the official, who wore a black face mask to conceal his identity for security reasons.

“We have also arrested 66 terrorists, Arabs of different nationalities, in Baghdad” and in “Mosul and Diyala,” he said of two restive areas in northern Iraq.

Those arrested reportedly included members of the Islamic State of Iraq, an alliance of several groups headed by Al-Qaeda.

Followers of the outlawed Baath party, whose members remain loyal to executed President Saddam Hussein, were also detained, along with members of the Naqshbandiya, an insurgent group located in northern Iraq.

The officer, however, said the successful targeting of those groups and the arrests all occurred before two devastating truck bombings at government ministries killed 95 people on August 19.

Around 600 people were also left wounded by the attacks at the ministries of finance and foreign affairs.

The officer told reporters the anti-terror unit had also managed to strangle the funding of the insurgent groups, some of which he said were supported by countries bordering Iraq, a likely reference to Syria.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has sent extra troops to secure the border with Syria and has repeatedly hit out at countries he says are giving terrorists the shelter needed to mount attacks inside Iraq.

Maliki has accused Syria of harboring terrorist suspects that he said planned the truck bombing at the ministry of finance, which was followed minutes later by the bombing at the ministry of foreign affairs.

Iraq and Syria recalled their respective ambassadors on August 25, after Maliki unsuccessfully asked that the two suspects be handed over.

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