Most Iraqi recruits 'are Saudi or Libyan'

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Most of the foreign fighters involved in the Iraq insurgency come from Saudi Arabia and Libya, two of America's allies in the "war on terror", US forces have discovered from material obtained during a raid.

Documents and computers found in a tented camp used by Sunni militants near the Syrian border are said to have yielded biographical details of about 700 recruits arriving in Iraq in the past 15 months, showing that at least 60 per cent are from the two US allies.

The Saudis, one of America's longest standing allies, supplied 305, or 41 per cent, of the fighters and 137, or 18 per cent, came from Libya, where Colonel Gaddafi has become a more recent ally of Washington. Among the rest, 291 came from other North African countries.

In contrast, Syria, regularly blamed for fuelling the Sunni insurgency and named by President Bush as part of the "axis of evil", was the source of just 56, or eight per cent of the total.

The cell at Sinjar is said by the Americans to have been responsible for almost 90 per cent of foreign troops smuggled into Iraq. Their base was captured after a prolonged firefight.

However, the vast majority of the Sunni fighters in the country are Iraqi while the number of foreigners has been falling.