Baghdad: Six thousand Al Qaida fighters have been killed since the beginning of the Iraq war five years ago, of which half died in suicide operations, according to a top official in the Iraqi army.

The official revealed that about six thousand Al Qaida elements were killed in Iraq between 2003 and April 2008.

The high number of Al Qaida deaths is “a result of cooperation between Iraqi security forces and US forces,'' General Anwar Amin, the Inspector General at the Iraqi Defense Ministry told Gulf News.

He indicated the members of the terror network were killed either by the US and Iraqi forces, or killed themselves in suicide bombings.

“This is a defeat for this organization not only in Iraq but also in the whole world. I am certain that Al Qaida will need decades to be able to recruit the number [of fighters] it lost in Iraq,'' he added.

He added that half of the recruits were killed in suicide operations.

Anwar said that Al Qaida no longer had the ability to recruit as many suicide bombers as it did between 2003 and 2005, which explains the decline in the number of suicide operations in Baghdad from twenty per week a couple of years ago to the present three or four every one to two weeks, according to him.

The American forces in Iraq are likely to consider this positive news in their belief that defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq would lead to its defeat in Afghanistan. But some Iraqi military analysts believe otherwise.

Imad Al Maliki, an Iraqi military analyst, told Gulf News: “Certainly, Al Qaida's strategy in Iraq is beating the American political and military project then establishing a new Talaban-like regime in Iraq and moving to the second phase of recruiting and exporting fighters to countries in the region and the world and feeding the battlefield in Afghanistan.

"That means Iraq will turn into a large camp for Al Qaida to train and recruit fighters, yet not achieving this does not mean that the organisation in Afghanistan or Pakistan is defeated.

"Iraq is part of Al Qaida's strategy, but not its [entire strategy]''
Others also think that the Iraqi and US armies have no reason to gloat about the six thousand Al Qaida members killed in Iraq.

Adnan Al Janabi, an officer in the former Iraqi army, told Gulf News: “I think that six thousand Al Qaida elements [killed] compared to more than four thousand American casualties despite the American superiority in intelligence information, weapons, spying and surveillance, also represents a blow to the American forces.''