BAGHDAD (AFP) – The two leading Al-Qaeda figures in Iraq were killed in a major operation involving US forces north of the capital Baghdad, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on state television Monday.
Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Masri were killed on Saturday in Salaheddin province by Iraqi intelligence agents who received US assistance, Maliki said, showing pictures of both men before and after their deaths.
The Baghdad government has previously announced the capture and killing of Baghdadi on several occasions and his real influence in Al-Qaeda has been called into question by the US military.
Maliki told reporters that Baghdadi and Masri’s identities had been confirmed after medical tests.
Iraqi authorities said last April they had captured Baghdadi, identified as one of the top leaders of the local wing of Al-Qaeda blamed for a wave of violence across the nation.
The Islamic State of Iraq, the Qaeda front in the country, however denied the claim and said Baghdadi was “fine” SITE Intelligence Group said, citing a statement released on Islamist forums on May 11, 2009.