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Iraq Transition

Suspected al-Zarqawi associate nabbed

• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A suspected deputy of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been captured in the restive city of Mosul, the Iraqi military said Saturday.

Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition forces on Friday arrested Mullah Mahdi and five other suspected terrorists -- Mahdi's brother, three other Iraqis and a Syrian, Iraqi Maj. Gen. Khalil al-Obeidi said.

Al-Obeidi said authorities believed Mahdi carried out attacks at the direction of al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born terrorist who is the most-wanted man in Iraq.

U.S. military officials believe Mahdi belongs to Ansar al-Sunni, a group thought to have ties to al-Zarqawi but not under his direct control.

Mosul is the second-most populous city in Iraq, according to the U.S. State Department, and the capital of Ninevah province, where Iraqi and U.S. troops have been conducting small-scale raids for the past month.

This week, the U.S. military increased its numbers in the province to about 4,000 troops and began a sweep of the area, looking for insurgents who might be using the remote region as a staging ground for terror attacks across Iraq.

Insurgent violence in the province continued Friday.

A suicide car bomb went off behind a police station in Hammam al-Ali, south of Mosul, killing two police officers and wounding seven others, the deputy governor said.

Also, mortar rounds wounded five Iraqis in Tal Afar, the U.S. military said.

Other developments

  • A suicide car bomber wounded eight Iraqi soldiers and one civilian near an Iraqi army checkpoint in Tikrit, the U.S. military said. A U.S. military spokesman said Iraqi soldiers shot at the car as it approached the checkpoint, which is near a coalition military base.
  • Operations against the insurgency in Baghdad and around the nearby Abu Ghraib area during the past 10 days have led to 800 arrests, a senior U.S. military official said Friday. Most of those are Iraqis, but a few were foreign fighters, he said. Some of the 800 detainees have since been released.
  • The U.S. military said a Bradley Fighting Vehicle manned by coalition forces collided with a car carrying Iraq civilians north of Baghdad on Friday. Two Iraqis were killed, including a child, in the accident when the car caught fire, the military said.
  • CNN's Jennifer Eccleston, Kianne Sadeq and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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