As Iraqi police and soldiers take over more security duties throughout the country, this allows a larger number of American troops to undertake offensive operations, and they are making more patrols and raids inside Sunni Arab areas. The Syrian border is particularly hot. Over the weekend, intelligence efforts discovered five terrorist safe houses, which resulted in attacks by smart bombs and ground troops. At least twenty terrorists were killed, and large quantities of weapons, bomb making materials and documents were captured. The documents, and interrogations of captured suspects leads to more information on where the terrorists have there safe houses, weapons caches, and travel routes across the Syrian border (the main source of suicide bombers, who are almost all foreigners, and cash.) The increased American offensives has led to increased casualties, with the rate up to the August level (close to three American deaths a day).
Some 300 foreigners have been captured in Iraq, and several thousand are believed to have served al Qaeda there. Most of these foreigners either get killed as suicide bombers, or stay for a while, then go home. Those who go home are often disillusioned with their experience in Iraq, as they see up close how most of the victims of al Qaeda violence are Iraqi civilians. The really hard core foreigners die as suicide bombers, or in other fighting with American or Iraqi forces. The ones that leave Iraq, often do so out of frustration. These foreign volunteers came to fight the "American occupiers," but are quickly made to realize that going after the Americans is suicidal, especially for largely untrained (in military matters) foreigners (who reveal themselves as foreigners as soon as they speak, using a foreign dialect of Arabic.)
The men returning from Iraq carry with them stories of the slaughter of Iraqi civilians, and this leads to less enthusiasm for serving al Qaeda in Iraq. As a result, al Qaeda has increased its recruiting efforts in more distant areas. Thus foreign terrorist volunteers from Canada, Israel, Europe and Africa have been detected. The current drop in suicide bomb attacks is believed partly due to a shortage of foreign volunteers, and partly due to more attacks on terrorist safe houses (where the foreign volunteers are kept out of sight, lest local Iraqis hear that foreign dialect and call the cops) and bomb workshops.
Syria is still a base for many al Qaeda and Baath Party (long the main supporter of Saddam Hussein) personnel. The Iraqi and Syrian branches of the Baath Party have resolved the differences that split the Baath Party for three decades. But these Iraqi Baath party leaders are wanted for war crimes in Iraq, and internationally. Protecting these Iraqis has put the Syrian government under increasing diplomatic pressure to either arrest or expel the Iraqi war criminals. Making things worse is a recent UN report that accused the Syrian government of carrying out a number of terror bombing attacks in Lebanon (to try and disrupt the effort to end Syrian control of the Lebanese government.) The Syrian army is now out of Lebanon, and Syria no longer controls the Lebanese government. The Syrian Baath party is also facing unrest among its Sunni Arabs (the majority in Syria), who resent decades of rule by the minority Alawite Moslems (who are considered heretics by hard core Islamic radicals). The last four years have not been kind to the Baath Party, and things look likely to get worse.