Iraq's prime minister says al-Qaida fighters are continuing to plan and launch attacks in the area south of Baghdad once known as the "triangle of death."
Nouri al-Maliki was speaking Wednesday to a group of sheiks in Babylon province. He asked for their cooperation to help Iraq's security forces capture insurgents active in the area.
Al-Maliki said recent intelligence showed that al-Qaida planned to use the area "as a den to feed terrorism" and re-ignite sectarian violence. He did not elaborate.
The area is mostly populated by Sunnis but Shiites live there too.
The region was one of the most violent places in Iraq at the height of the war.