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“Islamic State” top leaders arrested in Iraq

Qaeda-linked suspects nabbed in Diyala

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Four top al-Qaeda-linked operatives were captured in Iraq during a series of raids aimed at flushing out the insurgent group from a troubled central province, the Iraqi military said on Sunday.

Iraqi troops arrested the wanted suspects in a series of night raids in Diyala province on Saturday and early Sunday, which were branded a "major success" by defense ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari.

The suspects included Adnan Gumer Mohammed, an al-Qaeda judge suspected of administering justice under sharia law, and Qussai Ali Khalaf, accused of being a Diyala province chief for the Islamic State of Iraq, an Al-Qaeda ally.

Alleged provincial military head of the Islamic State of Iraq, Ahmed Quasim Jabbar, was also detained, as was Antisar Khudair, a woman believed to have been responsible for recruiting female suicide bombers.

"Her job was to carry out recruitment, brainwash new recruits and then push them to carry out criminal activities," Askari said.

Diyala province, and especially its capital Baquba, has been the scene of repeated suicide bombings, many of them carried out by women.

The multi-ethnic region made up of Christians and Muslims has seen ongoing efforts by the US and Iraqi militaries to drive out insurgents, both Sunni Al-Qaeda and various Shiite groups.

This latest roundup is part of a major new offensive, which began on Tuesday, involving 50,000 Iraqi troops backed by US forces sweeping the dangerous province for insurgents and weapons. Hundreds have been detained in the crackdown, the government has said.