BAGHDAD ø The U.S. military has captured what officials termed a
senior Sunni commander in Iraq, near the Syrian border.
The military said the Marine Corps detained the top commander in Al Anbar province in western Iraq. The commander, who was not
identified, was one of six insurgents captured on Nov. 21 in the Anbar town
"One of the six detainees is believed to be a high-ranking cell leader
of anti-Iraqi forces operating in and around the Al Anbar province," the
military said in a statement on Monday. The military did not provide additional details.
Al Anbar has been deemed the biggest challenge for the U.S. military in
Iraq. Much of the province, which borders Syria, has been under insurgency
control over the last 18 months, Middle East Newsline reported. They have included Faluja and Ramadi.
Officials said the suspected senior Sunni commander was captured during
a raid of Haqlaniyah, along the Euphrates
River. Marines also found arms and munitions in the counter-insurgency
The U.S. military has intensified its search for Sunni commanders in Al
Anbar, many of whom were said to have escaped from Faluja over the last
month. They said Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi and his leading aides have escaped
Faluja and were sited in northern Iraq.
The Kurdish newspaper Al Taakhi quoted Iraqi police sources as saying
that Al Zarqawi was believed to have been injured in the U.S.-led assault on
Faluja. The newspaper quoted a police source from the northern city of
Kirkuk as saying that Al Zarqawi was seen arriving in Tuz Khormato, about 75
kilometers south of Kirkuk.
Al Zarqawi's leading aide, Omar Hadid, was also said to have been
injured in the battle for Faluja. Officials believe he was still in or
around Faluja and leading the Sunni insurgency against the U.S.-led
coalition force. The military has reported eliminating most pockets of
resistance in the city.
For his part, Hadid told the Qatari-based A-Jazeera satellite channel
that he was not a senior commander in Faluja. He told A-Jazeera that he is
24 years old, never met Al Zarqawi and served in Saddam Hussein's military
for three months.