BAGHDAD (Reuters) --Iraqi troops have arrested 140 suspected al Qaeda members and other Sunni Arab militants in raids on the northern city of Mosul over four days last week, security officials said.
Mosul is the last urban stronghold of a largely Sunni Arab insurgency that comprises Islamist groups such as al Qaeda plus some members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party.
"Nineveh operational command has begun the 'Nineveh Wall' plan, aimed at remnants of terrorist groups and high value targets using high level intelligence," said Hassan Kareem, the head of security operations in Nineveh province, of which Mosul is capital.
Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Mohammed al-Askari said: "This operation targets al-Qaeda and Baathists in the city ... and those collaborating with them."
Kareem and al-Askari made their comments on October 3.
The number of Iraqi forces around the city had been increased to cordon off insurgent activity, he added.
A local security official who declined to be identified said the crackdown, conducted by an elite Iraqi anti-terrorist unit from Baghdad, netted 140 suspected insurgents. One hundred of the detainees had been moved to jails in Baghdad, he said.
He said that 100 others were still wanted by authorities.
Al-Qaeda stepped up its presence in Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province after being defeated in western Iraq and Baghdad by Sunni Arab tribes allied with U.S. forces.
Though weakened since last year thanks to an increased presence of Iraqi security forces in Mosul, insurgents are still able to carry out frequent, lethal attacks in Mosul and across Nineveh.