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Gates Says U.S. Intelligence Shows Al-Qaeda Fleeing South Waziristan

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates (left) visits U.S. troops in Kirkuk today.
KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) -- U.S. intelligence shows militants linked to Al-Qaeda and other groups have been fleeing South Waziristan in the face of a Pakistani military offensive, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said today.

"We see some evidence in the intelligence that they [Pakistani forces] are forcing Al-Qaeda and some of the other terrorists out of South Waziristan and they're fleeing, and some of them are talking about going back into Afghanistan," Gates told U.S. troops during a visit to the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

"They've kind of stirred up the nest there, and I think that's a good thing."

Gates praised what he called "significant military operations [by Pakistan] that have only increased in size and tempo" in recent months.

"The Paks, I think, are doing a good job of putting pressure on their side of the border and we're obviously going to do an even better job of putting pressure on the Afghan side the border," Gates said, referring to U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to deploy 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Army is battling militants linked to Al-Qaeda in South Waziristan. Militants have hit back with attacks in Pakistani cities.