US, Iraqi forces killed al-Qaeda number two

Abu Azzam, the No. 2 al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, was shot dead in a joint U.S.-Iraqi raid on an apartment in Baghdad Sunday.

Azzam, an aid to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had a $50,000 U.S. bounty on his head, was responsible for a surge in car bombings in the capital since April 2005, U.S. military spokeswoman Lieutenant Michelle Lunato said today in a telephone interview from Baghdad. His real name was Abdallah Muhammed Al-Juhaari and his title was the Emir, ``prince'' in Arabic, of Baghdad, she said.

U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi forces are battling insurgents across Iraq and have conducted several large-scale offensives in recent months to crack down on rebels in key cities including Tal Afar, near Mosul in the north, and Haditha, Hit and Karabilah in the mainly Sunni Muslim western al-Anbar province.

At least five senior members of al-Qaeda were killed in those raids, according to the U.S. military, including the emirs of Karbilah and al-Qaim, and three emirs of Mosul. The removal of those leaders has failed to halt attacks and the effect of Azzam's death on violence remains to be seen, reports Bloomberg.

Iraqi government spokesman Laith Kubba said a "patriotic citizen" of Iraqi had phoned in a tip on the insurgent's whereabouts. Pentagon officials said the key information came from a detainee in U.S. custody. A statement by the U.S. military command in Baghdad cited "multiple intelligence sources."

A joint U.S.-Iraqi squad entered an apartment building in southeastern Baghdad and found Abu Azzam's hideout, officials said. "They went in to capture him, he did not surrender, and he was killed in the raid," said Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, a U.S. military spokesman.

The troops reportedly captured at least one other insurgent in the apartment.

"By taking Abu Azzam off the street . . . we have dealt another serious blow to Zarqawi's terrorist organization," said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, chief spokesman for the U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

Iraqi officials said Tuesday that a lower-ranking leader of the group surrendered in the northern city of Mosul and another was killed in Karabila, near the Syrian border, informs LA Times.


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