Baghdad, Iraq, AP- Coalition forces have arrested two alleged leaders of the al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorist group, the U.S. military said Saturday.
The two men were identified as Taha Ibrahim Yasin Becher, whose alias was Abu Fatima, and Hamed Saeed Ismael Mustafa, also known as Abu Shahed. The statement said the two men, who were holding a meeting at the time of their capture, headed al-Qaeda”s organization in Iraq”s third-largest city.
The statement said Abu Fatima took over as al-Qaeda”s top-ranking operative in Mosul 12 days ago, after his predecessor also was captured by coalition forces.
"The simultaneous capture of both leaders damages the organizational structure of al-Qaeda in Iraq”s northern network," Saturday”s statement said.
On Thursday, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said the security forces had killed 226 militants and captured 757 in recent operations in Mosul and its vicinity. On Saturday, however, Iraqi authorities in Mosul announced that 500 detainees "who have not been proven guilty" had been released from detention.
Also Saturday, the military said that Iraqi forces and U.S. troops killed two insurgents and captured six in the city of Tal Afar, site of a major joint operation about 30 miles west of Mosul.