After being forced from its strongholds in the west and centre of Iraq in the past two years, al-Qa'ida's dwindling band of fighters had made a defiant "last stand" in the northern city of Mosul. A huge operation to crush the 1200 fighters who remained from a terrorist force once estimated at more than 12,000 began on May 10.
Operation Lion's Roar, in which the Iraqi army combined forces with the US 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment, has already resulted in the death of Abu Khalaf, the al-Qa'ida leader, and the capture of more than 1000 suspects.
The group has been reduced to hit-and-run attacks, including one that killed two off-duty policemen at the weekend, and sporadic bombings aimed at killing large numbers of officials and civilians.
Even in the district of Zanjali, which was previously a hotbed of the insurgency, it was possible for reporters to accompany an Iraqi colonel on foot through streets of breeze-block houses studded with bullet holes. Hundreds of houses were searched without resistance.
US and Iraqi leaders believe that while it is premature to write off al-Qa'ida in Iraq, the Sunni group has lost control of its last urban base in Mosul, and its remnants have been driven into countryside to the south.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has also led a crackdown on the Shia Mahdi Army in Basra and Baghdad in recent months, claimed yesterday that his Government had "defeated" terrorism.
"They were intending to besiege Baghdad and control it," he said. "But thanks to the will of the tribes, security forces, army and all Iraqis, we defeated them."
The number of foreign fighters coming over the border from Syria to bolster al-Qa'ida's numbers is thought to have significantly declined.
Brigadier General Abdullah Abdul, a senior Iraqi commander, said: "We've limited their movements with check-points. They are doing small attacks and trying big ones, but they're mostly not succeeding."
Major-General Mark Hertling, US commander in the north, said: "I think we're at the irreversible point."
Mr Maliki was speaking at ceremonies marking the fifth anniversary of the 2003 assassination of Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, a leading opponent of Saddam Hussein who was killed in a truck bombing in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf after returning from exile in Iran.
Such attacks plagued Iraq following the US-led invasion, but violence in the country has fallen to its lowest level in four years. The change has been driven by last year's build-up of American forces, the Sunni tribal revolt against al-Qa'ida in Iraq and Mr Maliki's crackdowns, among other factors.
Mr Maliki plans to visit the United Arab Emirates today and also Italy and Germany later in the month - hoping that improved security at home will lead to greater international support.
Iraq is enjoying a surge in oil revenue driven by record crude prices and the highest production levels since Saddam's ouster. The Government expects to earn $73 billion from oil this year if prices remain high.
Putting some of this money to work, the Iraqi Government held a groundbreaking ceremony at the weekend for a project to refurbish the main road to the Baghdad airport.
Hallelujah. If Bush manages to avoid screwing things up in the next 197 days, we will essentially have won — a Pyrrhic victory, to be sure, but victory nonetheless. Hopefully, once President Obama is debriefed by the brass, he'll accelerate the withdrawal, and we can finally turn our attention to bin Laden. In fact, Bush could probably start withdrawing now, and have all of our troops out before the election, but, having refused to heed calls for withdrawal for so long, he is now invested in an eternity of war, as is John McCain. It's ironic: the Right accuses us of being invested in defeat, but in reality it's the other way around.