WASHINGTON - The United States believes that there are some 1,000 al-Qaida still in Iraq, CIA chief Leon Panetta, nominated to take over the Pentagon in July, told the Senate on Thursday.
Panetta made the comments when asked whether it was in the US interest to keep its troops in Iraq past an end-year deadline for their withdrawal, if Baghdad asked.
"I have to tell you there are 1,000 al-Qaida that are still in Iraq," he said. "It too continues to be a fragile situation. And I believe that we should take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that we protect whatever progress we've made there."