The Iraqi Army has just started its operation in Mosul to break al-Qaeda’s last stronghold in the western provinces, and from all indications, they appear to be succeeding.  Reuters reports that Iraq has captured over 1,000 gunmen in the city and its environs, and many more have taken advantage of an amnesty offer:

Iraqi forces have detained more than 1,000 suspects in an offensive aimed at crushing al-Qaida in northern Iraq, the military commander of the operation said on Saturday.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki returned to Baghdad on Saturday after spending several days in the city of Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province to supervise the crackdown.

Many gunmen from Sunni Islamist al-Qaida have regrouped in Nineveh after being pushed out of other areas. The U.S. military said Mosul is al-Qaida’s last major urban stronghold in Iraq. …

Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Mohammed al-Askari said scores of militants had already handed over their guns.

“We are committed to the amnesty and have reassured them there will be no judicial pursuit against them,” he said, adding the government would soon make public the compensation available for different kinds of weapons handed in.

Nouri al-Maliki has gotten his troops off to a good start.  We’ll keep an eye on this story and keep up with its developments.  A victory here could spell the end of AQI and deliver a bitter defeat to Osama bin Laden.