Mosul, Iraq - Iraqi security forces have arrested more than 150 people, including Al-Qaeda leaders and Arab fighters, in a massive crackdown on insurgents in northern Nineveh province, the defence ministry said Saturday.

The operation, launched late Wednesday, centres on the restive city of Mosul, where daily violence against civilians and the army and police remains high compared with other areas of the country.

"Around 152 people have been arrested, including Arabs, leaders from Al-Qaeda and the enemies of the political process," defence ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari told AFP.

The crackdown involves members of Iraq's anti-terror forces, as well as soldiers and police.

"It is a wide operation to chase members of Al-Qaeda, and Baathists in Mosul," he said, referring to executed dictator Saddam Hussein's outlawed political party.

A security forces commander in Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, said the operation had targeted "terrorists inside and outside Mosul."

"Anti-terrorist forces arrested more than 100 wanted people, including leaders from Al-Qaeda and the Baath party, for committing crimes," said Major General Hassan Karim Khodayer, chief of Nineveh operations command.

Mosul, 370 kilometres north of the capital Baghdad, sees almost daily attacks on civilians and security forces.

There is a large American troop presence at two bases on the outskirts of the city but the US military did not immediately comment on whether it had any involvement in the latest arrests.