20 Apr 2010

Top al Qaeda Iraq leaders killed

2:42 pm on 20 April 2010

Two leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq have been killed in a joint Iraqi-US operation, the Iraqi Prime Minister and US officials say.

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said Iraqi al Qaeda leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who led an affiliate group, were found dead in a hole in the ground inside a house after it was surrounded and stormed by troops.

Mr Maliki said both had been killed in Salaheddin province, west of Baghdad.

A United States military statement says DNA tests have confirmed that the two bodies were those of al-Masri and al-Baghdadi.

US Vice-President Joe Biden said the deaths were "potentially devastating blows to al Qaeda Iraq".