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The U.S. government has dismissed claims by al-Qaeda's No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahiri that the West is in retreat and the terror outfit is in ascendance after nine years of fighting.
Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley said that Washington's relations with "countries in the (militancy-infected) regions around the world are in ascendance and it is al-Qaeda - and particularly the core al-Qaeda - that is in retreat."
But on Friday, President Barack Obama said that pressure on the al Qaeda leadership meant that "they have been holed up in ways that have made it harder for them to operate." He added: "Bin Laden has gone deep underground. Even Zawahiri, who is more often out there, has been much more cautious."