BAGHDAD (AP) - America's top general in Iraq is calling the deaths of two top Al-Qaida in Iraq figures “a significant step forward” in ridding the country of terrorists.
The U.S. military says the men, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, were killed in a nighttime raid on their safe house yesterday near Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein.
U.S. Forces Commander Gen. Raymond Odierno is praising the joint U.S.-Iraqi operation. Odierno says the deaths are “potentially the most significant blow to Al-Qaida in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency.'' But he says, “There is still work to do.”
One of the men killed, al-Masri, was the shadowy national leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq, which he took over after its Jordanian-born founder, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in a June 2006 U.S. airstrike.
The other, al-Baghdadi, is the self-described leader of the Al-Qaida linked Islamic state of Iraq.
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