Iraqi Insurgents Now Battling Al Qaeda Terrorists
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2006 The al Qaeda in Iraq network has lost scores of key leaders as the result of anti-terrorist operations and now it's being attacked by Iraqi insurgents, a senior U.S. military officer told reporters at a Baghdad news conference today.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has had 111 of its leaders killed or captured in the past year, Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, said. Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi runs al Qaeda in Iraq.
"We indeed have had significant impact on terrorists and foreign fighters, al Qaeda in Iraq, in terms of their leadership," Lynch said.
In addition, U.S., other coalition and Iraqi security forces, Lynch said, have been getting help from an unexpected quarter in the past several weeks.
"The Sunni rejectionists, if you will, are conducting planned attacks against Zarqawi and his network," Lynch said. The Sunni Iraqis were favored under now-deposed dictator Saddam Hussein. Some Sunnis are suspected of carrying out a home-grown insurgency against U.S. and other coalition troops in Iraq.
However, al Qaeda has routinely killed innocent Iraqi citizens during its attacks. That's a situation that Lynch said has galvanized most Iraqis -- including home-grown insurgents -- against the foreign terrorists.
In fact, Iraqi insurgents have killed six key al Qaeda in Iraq leaders since September 2005, Lynch said.
And "recently we've seen significant operations where the local insurgency has turned on the Zarqawi network and forced them out of Ramadi," he said. Ramadi is an Iraqi town in Anbar province.
Al Qaeda in Iraq's ability to conduct operations has become degraded, Lynch said. Iraqi insurgents' actions, he said, are now contributing to this state of affairs.
"Zaqawi's on the ropes," Lynch said, noting U.S., other coalition and Iraqi security forces will continue offensive operations against the terrorist leader and his network.