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Iraqi Reports: Leader of Major Al-Qaida-Linked Group Captured in Iraq

09 March 2007

Reports from Iraq say the leader of an al-Qaida-linked group has been captured in a raid in the Abu Ghraib area, on the western outskirts of Baghdad.

The reports say Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the group called Islamic State of Iraq, was arrested Friday.

U.S. military officials say they have no information on the reports.

Also Friday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said an international conference in Baghdad Saturday shows that the situation in Iraq is improving.

The meeting is to bring together representatives from Iraq's neighbors and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China).

In other news, the U.S. commander of coalition forces in northern Iraq, Major General Benjamin Mixon, says he has asked for more troops to be moved to volatile Diyala province.

He says operations in Diyala are intended to keep pressure on insurgents who may seek to use the area as a refuge or base.

In a separate development, the U.S. military says a Marine was killed in combat Friday in Anbar province.

The U.S. military said earlier that coalition forces killed one terrorist and captured 16 suspects in raids Friday.

It also said Apache attack aircraft killed 12 insurgents who were in an ambush position on a road west of Baghdad's international airport on Wednesday.

Iraqi and U.S. forces are in the third week of a security crackdown in the Iraqi capital.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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