US claims to have killed al-Qaida in Iraq leader

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Friday, June 27, 2008

The United States claim to have killed the head of al-Qaida in Iraq along with two other insurgents in a Tuesday gun battle in Mosul. The man, who an official military statement identified only by his nickname of 'Abu Khalaf', was described by US forces as the "emir" of terror in Mosul, al-Qaida's last Iraqi stronghold.

The statement identified one of the others by the nickname of 'Abu Khalud' and said he was a Syrian, while the third was said to be an unnamed woman shot while attempting to detonate an explosive belt attached to a killed colleague.

The States also claim that Khalaf had been one of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's deputies. Al-Zarqawi, the former leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, was killed by a US air strike in 2006 in Diyala.

Khalaf is said by the US military to have arranged many attacks in Iraq. All three militants were shot during a raid on a building by US forces. The move is part of an effort to drive al-Qaida from Mosul. The programme began last month.