WASHINGTON — The top US commander in Iraq said Friday that most of the senior leaders of al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq — 34 out of 42 — have been captured or killed over the past three months.
Gen. Ray Odierno told reporters that the focus now is on keeping mid- or low-level fighters from taking their place. "We will continue with our Iraqi security partners to go after them," Odierno said. "But there are still some very dangerous people out there."After the 2003 invasion, Iraq became the central battleground for al-Qaida, with the network growing in strength and helping undermine the Iraqi government supported by the US.
More recently, US officials say al-Qaida's presence and influence in Iraq has diminished as the militant group turns its focus to Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as countries like Somalia, with weak central government control.