Iraqi officials say only a small number of al-Qaeda leaders remain in Iraq after security operations have successfully arrested or killed top figures in the terrorist organisation's hierarchy.
"Iraqi forces reduced the number of important terrorist leaders and heads of al-Qaeda and other groups from 43 leaders to just 11," said Gen. Babaker Zebari, Chief of Staff of Iraqi Army. "The next days will witness their destruction once and for all."
Killed and captured terrorist leaders include al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri, Islamic State of Iraq leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, and al-Qaeda in Iraq military leader Mahmoud al-Faraji.
Zebari noted that Iraqi forces killed 32 al-Qaeda leaders in military operations carried out in several Iraqi cities, in addition to arresting scores of individuals accused of having links with the organisation.
In the last few years, the government has focused largely on the development of Iraqi forces and providing them with state of the art equipment. Many new divisions and units were created, such as the intelligence agency, rapid intervention units, special forces, and others.
"In the past, Iraq was not prepared to have special anti-terrorism forces," Zebari said. "However, with the large-scale spread of terrorism in the country, special operations forces were created in 2004. They are now operating highly competently in the fields and are making success in their missions in arresting and killing leaders of armed groups and dismantling terrorist cells."
According to government reports, special forces have dismantled scores of terrorist networks and arrested more than 20 individuals accused of being among the most dangerous members of al-Qaeda in Iraq and other terrorist groups, such as Birds of Paradise and Ansar al-Islam.
"The last terrorist leader to fall in the hands of the Iraqi forces was al-Qaeda leader Khalil al-Diwan. The anti-terrorism unit managed to lay a carefully-planned ambush for him and to arrest him in Abu Ghraib, 30 kilometres west of Baghdad," spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Defence Gen. Mohammed al-Askari said.
Baghdad Operations Command spokesperson Qassim Atta said that "intelligence reports indicate the collapse of all constituents of terrorists will continue, noting that it has become only a matter of time and continuation of pre-emptive strikes to get rid of the few remaining heads of those groups in Iraq."
Reports also indicate that the number of foreign fighters in Iraq has recently dropped because of the pre-emptive security operations that Iraqi forces have carried out.
"It is no secret to say that security forces managed to destroy 70% of the cells of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups recently, and undermine the bases and foundations of the organisation that give them life," Atta said.
"For days, we have been working incessantly on drawing up a comprehensive plan in Iraq to strike all terrorist targets in one zero hour," said Col. Ali al-Jameeli of the anti-terrorism unit.
"The bombings that take place from time to time cannot be described as a drop in security or strength of terrorist groups," al-Jameeli said. "Rather, they are unplanned, hysterical operations by these groups."
"We have confirmed information about the escape of six terrorist leaders to outside Iraq in the past weeks after they were besieged and were not given room to move," said Aifan al-Issawi, chairman of the Security Committee in the Anbar Provincial Council.
In the Iraqi street, meanwhile, many citizens say they notice the relative improvement in the security situation.
"The reports that the government publish are true because we have felt the improvement of the security situation in the street," said 21-year-old Samir Radhi, who works at a blacksmith workshop in Baghdad.
"The terrorists once controlled our streets and terrorised our citizens -- now they have disappeared thanks to the work of the Iraqi forces," Radhi added.
"In the past, we used to hear scary names of terrorists who killed thousands of Iraqis. However, we now know that many of them are in prison. We hope that their remnants will be arrested soon," said Barakat Seliman, a 52-year-old resident of Mosul.