U.S. general: Most al-Qaida leaders in Iraq killed

Top American commander is confident that he can safely reduce U.S. troops to 50,000 by the end of August

Published June 4, 2010 6:11PM (EDT)

The top American commander in Iraq said Friday that most of the top leaders of al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq have been captured or killed over the past three months.

Gen. Ray Odierno also told a news conference at the Pentagon that he is confident that he can safely reduce U.S. troops levels to 50,000 by the end of August, as promised by President Barack Obama.

There are now 88,000 U.S. troops there, the general said.

Odierno said he expect al-Qaida in Iraq to remain a problem for years, despite its recent losses.

"Over the last 90 days or so we have either picked up or killed 34 of the top 42 al-Qaida in Iraq leaders," he said.

Even with those setbacks, the terrorist organization is trying to reconstitute itself, he said.

Odierno also said he does not believe that security in Iraq will deteriorate during the period of U.S. withdrawal. He said the reason is that Iraqi forces are taking the security lead throughout the country, with U.S. troops mainly advising and assisting them.

Odierno met with Obama on Wednesday at the White House.

By Associated Press

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Al-qaida Iraq U.s. Military