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Iraq Says Winning War on Terror as Polls Near [View All]

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twaddler01 Donating Member (800 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 01:23 PM
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Iraq Says Winning War on Terror as Polls Near
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Edited on Fri Jan-28-05 01:24 PM by twaddler01
By Andrew Marshall (Reuters)

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Insurgents bent on wrecking Sunday's election in Iraq (news - web sites) killed 10 Iraqis and two U.S. troops on Friday but the government said it had caught three al Qaeda lieutenants and insisted guerrillas were on the defensive.

The government imposed extraordinary security restrictions to try to safeguard the polls. Land borders were closed and travel between provinces was banned. An extended curfew was imposed in most cities from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. (11 a.m.-10 p.m. EST).

Iraqis began voting abroad. In Australia, exiles danced in the streets, proudly displaying blue ink on their fingers which showed they had cast the election's first votes.

"When I look at the ink on my finger -- this is a mark of freedom," said Kassim Abood, outside a polling booth in a disused furniture warehouse in Sydney.

Security was tight at polling venues in Syria, Jordan, and Turkey and police kept traffic away with roadblocks. Guards with metal detectors searched everyone going into the stations.

Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has vowed to kill anyone who votes in a poll he says is designed to bring Iraq's "infidel" Shi'ite majority to power.

Iraq's minister of state for national security said two of the Jordanian militant's aides had been captured, including his alleged chief of operations in Baghdad, seized on Dec. 31.

"His organization is crumbling," Kassim Daoud said.

In a statement, the government said the Baghdad operations chief, named as Salah Salman Idaaj Matar al-Luhaybi and also known as Abu Sayf, had met Zarqawi four times in December.

It said the second captured Zarqawi lieutenant, Ali Hamad Ardani Yasin al-Isawi, had met Zarqawi 40 times in the past three months and was caught west of Baghdad on Jan. 20.

Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih later told a news conference that a third Zarqawi aide, Inad Mohammed al-Qais, had been arrested. He said Qais was a member of al Qaeda operating in Baghdad as a military adviser.

The government says several Zarqawi aides have been captured this month, but some officials cast doubt on the significance of the arrests and said the announcements have been timed to boost public confidence ahead of the elections...
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