Security operations in Anbar province during the past two months have led to the arrest of 144 suspected terrorists, provincial officials announced Monday (June 13th).
The suspects include al-Qaeda leaders and others wanted by the Iraqi judiciary.
Government forces have also seized more than 17 tons of explosives and other ammunition.
"We can say now with full confidence that the al-Qaeda organization in the province has turned into mere gangs and scattered, fragmented cells, and the security forces have been able to impose law in all parts of the province," said Eifan al-Essawi, chairman of the defense and security committee in the Anbar Provincial Council.
Al-Essawi told Mawtani that the recent successes have a lot to do with intelligence efforts and operational secrecy.
"American forces also played an important and vital role in achieving those successes because they supplied the army and police forces with various equipment to detect underground explosives, and provided police personnel with night goggles, the necessary information to pursue terrorist groups, and ways to operate inside cities and in desert areas," he said.
Anbar police commander Brig. Gen. Hadi Kassar said security forces have combed the desert along the borders of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria -- an area estimated more than 32,000 square kilometers. They have also constructed 42 new police posts and more than 120 observation points during the past two months.
"The security forces' intelligence and military operations, which began in April, resulted in the destruction of a number of hideouts that members of the terrorist al-Qaeda organization and other terrorist groups were using," Kassar told Mawtani.
"Now, there is not an inch of land that al-Qaeda can prove it controls. The control is in the hands of the Iraqi security forces," he said.
More than 9,000 security personnel and 700 vehicles were deployed in the desert areas, said Staff Brig. Gen. Mohammad Rasheed, commander of the Anbar emergency battalions.
"The security forces are continually conducting fixed and mobile patrols to prevent terrorist elements from returning to the province," he said.
Provincial officials said they expect terrorist groups will try to reorganize their ranks following their recent setbacks.
"We ask the security forces and the citizens to always remain alert and not to allow the terrorists to come back," said Sadoun Obaid al-Shalaan, deputy chairman of the Anbar Provincial Council.
Shalaan also praised the Iraqi forces' "remarkable and exceptional" performance.
"We had not expected that it could be done so fast," he said. "Al-Qaeda and other groups lost their popularity and influence in all parts of Iraq."
Citizens of Anbar province welcomed the return of the security that would allow them to enjoy the summer season.
"Cleansing Anbar cities of those terrorist groups is very important," said Muthana Hameed, a 29-year-old government employee. "It gives us the impression that terrorists are now far away from us, and we can live in a secure way."
Civil engineer Asaad al-Shammary, 45, said residents feel safe going out again.
"The terrorist used to control the cities, depriving the people of the simplest rights. We used to wish that we could get rid of the terrorists one day," he said. "Now we have gotten rid of them. The security forces must continue to chase their remnants to wipe them out once and for all."