Insurgent attacks in and around Baghdad killed 21 people Sunday as Iraqi forces moved to cordon off the city and search it for insurgents.
The massive Baghdad operation comes after stepped up insurgent attacks killed more that 600 people in the last month. Iraqi soldiers and police set up checkpoints on the southern and northern outskirts of Baghdad early Sunday before beginning street-to-street sweeps.
A suicide car bomber killed nine Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint south of Baghdad. Other attacks killed at least 12 Iraqi police and civilians in and around the capital.
Meanwhile, the militant group al-Qaida in Iraq says its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is leading the insurgent response to the Baghdad operation.
That statement is the latest of several conflicting statements about Zarqawi and his health recently posted on the group's website.